Video streaming privacy and controlling video access can be a challenge at times, and the reasons for wanting to limit access can be varied. Sometimes there can be legal incentives, such as acquiring distribution rights for a concert in only selected areas. Other times it can just be to funnel the benefit of doing that video content to a source controlled by the content owner. For example, making sure beneficial traffic to a website ends up at a page controlled by the user.
This article covers the wealth of features available at Ustream that can facilitate this need to restrict access to streaming content. This includes methods to password protect video assets along with more sophisticated approaches such as restrictions based on demographics like location or age.
This piece is focused on protecting external facing video content. If the need is to instead protect video access for content that has to be internal facing only, Ustream Align offers more granular control to keep video content inside an organization.
- Video Access: Restrict Embed URLs
- Video Password Protection
- Preferred Support Restrictions
- GeoLock: Geo-Blocking
- IPLock: IP-Blocking
- AgeLock: Age-Restriction
Video Access: Restrict Embed URLs
There is a natural inclination by many users to “own” their video content. This includes not just legally owning their video assets, but also being able to control where and how that content can be viewed.
The domain restriction feature is one step toward this solution, allowing the content owner to control what websites are allowed to distribute this content. Found under the Security selection, this option allows content owners to enter in approved URLs for where the content can be embed. For example, entering the URL of “http://www.mysite.com/*” will create a setup where just websites under this domain will be able to successfully embed the content. The * permits any page within that domain to embed that content. For example, “http://www.mysite.com/may-event/” would be allowed to embed the stream. If the desire is to limit access to just a specific page on that domain, that can be achieved through placing the full URL with no asterisk, such as “http://www.mysite.com/may-event/first-show.html”.
This feature comes with added functionality of being able to redirect content when an unallowed website attempts to use the embed. This can either redirect to the Ustream channel page or a specific URL. In execution, this will prompt a message inside the player stating: “This stream is currently unavailable on this domain at the broadcaster’s request”. Included with this message is a button that states “Ok”. Clicking on this button will redirect the viewer to the desired URL.
Video Password Protection
Video assets can also be protected through mandating that viewers enter a password before gaining access. This feature, which is not found on Ustream Align due to more sophisticated methods of securing content, can be controlled directly through the Ustream dashboard. Content owners can set a password that will gate access to that content.
Passwords can be simple or complex, as long as they contain at least 5 characters and less than 33 characters. The password can be changed at any time as well.
The password is easy to setup, and universally applicable to all viewers of that stream. If more granular control is required, like individual viewer access credentials, Ustream Align offers Single Sign-On (SSO) approaches to further lock down access.
Preferred Support Restrictions
Additional methods for restricting content are available as part of preferred support, which is available on Enterprise level plans at Ustream. This includes the ability to restrict access at both the geographic and IP level along with a method of restricting by age.
At the geo level, this is done on a country basis and can be either set up as a white list or a black list. For example, a channel can be selected so that just the United States, Canada and Mexico can access that content. It can also be setup in an opposite fashion, where everyone except the United States, Canada and Mexico could access the content. This functionality gives the tools to make it easy for content owners to navigate region specific rights for their broadcasts.
Advanced features are also available with GeoLock that can restrict based on down to the city level. This city based restriction is available through either the same whitelist and blacklist methodology. For example, a video asset could be set up so that San Francisco could not watch a stream, or the inverse so that places outside of San Francisco could not watch the stream. This can be useful for example if you want to “blackout” a specific media market where the same content may be available on traditional broadcast distribution. It could also be ideal for driving on premise attendance, for example a music concert located in Seattle and therefore Seattle isn’t permitted to stream the content but locations outside of that city are.
The IPLock feature involves providing a list of IPs that the content owner wants to have access to their video assets. The feature works like a whitelist, meaning other IPs besides the ones given will be locked out of viewing that content.
The approved IP addresses can contain wildcards as well. For example, “174.*.*.*” could be a listed IP address, meaning any viewer who is watching from an IP that starts with 174 would be able to access that video asset.
Additional restrictions are available via an age gate. Viewers are asked to enter their birthdate before they can access the content. If the viewer meets the age restriction, they are allowed to view the video content.
Suite of Video Restriction Features
The Ustream SaaS (Software as a Service) platform allows for a multitude of restriction features that can be used individually or combined. For example, content can be restricted through URL restrictions and also mixed with password protection, which is carried through at the player level regardless of where the content is trying to be accessed from.
Want to take these features for a spin for a large event? Try out Pro Broadcasting and take full advantage of Ustream’s restriction capabilities.