Widevine Names Netflix, Gets Embedded and Goes Live

Widevine logoWidevine revealed its biggest customer to date this morning — Netflix (s NFLX) — saying it’s been using its DRM for distribution across multiple consumer electronics devices. And the DRM provider could see even more takeup soon, as it has announced new features, such as support for live streaming, and a large — and growing — number of CE devices that support its software.

Netflix has been using Widevine DRM for its Watch Instantly streaming service, to bring its videos to the desktop as well as to gaming consoles and other CE devices. But Netflix isn’t the only one — Widevine has also been chosen as the DRM solution by Blockbuster (s BBI) for its On Demand service, Sonic Solutions’ (s SNIC) Roxio CinemaNow service, and by Best Buy (s BBY) for its upcoming digital video services.

All of those companies have multiplatform ambitions for their streaming video services, meaning they want them to be embedded across multiple CE devices, including gaming consoles, Blu-ray players and new connected HDTV sets. Netflix, for instance, expects its streaming service to be available in more than 100 different CE devices by the end of the year. That has helped Widevine get a foothold with a number of CE manufacturers, and its DRM is now used for distribution to products from Apple (s AAPL), Haier, LG Electronics, Nintendo, Philips, Samsung and Toshiba, as well as the makers of more than 50 different set-top boxes.

Altogether, Widevine CEO Brian Baker said in a phone interview that its DRM is supported by more than 140 million retail units that have already been sold, with more to come. As a result, he believes Widevine is becoming the de facto standard for delivering streaming video to CE devices.

And with support for DRM-protected live streaming, which Widevine also announced this morning, we could see companies like Netflix and others begin to offer not just on-demand offerings, but live video streams. Such a move could enable virtual network operators to crop up and deliver linear video channels directly to the TV, without the need to roll out expensive cable infrastructure or invest in set-top boxes.

Widevine has raised a total of $51.8 million since being recapitalized in 2003, including a $15 million strategic investment from global cable operator Liberty Global and Samsung Ventures that it announced in December. The DRM provider said it would use the funding to expand its ability to offer TV Everywhere-type services.

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