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I've been enjoying March Madness from both my iPhone and iPad via the March Madness Live application. In fact I've enjoyed the app so much I purchased an Apple TV so I could watch games via AirPlay. Unfortunately, when I attempt to send the games to the Apple TV the commercials play but the games do not and instead the Apple TV just displays a spinning icon. Some quick Googling turned up the March Madness Live FAQ which contains this disappointing tidbit:

Is Airplay supported?
No airplay is not supported on this application. The 2012 March Madness Live™ requires a level of content protection that is currently not supported by Airplay.

Additional Googling for AirPlay content protection turns up no immediately useful results. I can speculate what the application developers might be objecting to about AirPlay's security, but I am looking for a definitive answer. Not specific to the thought process of the particular March Madness Live application developers, but in general.

What is it about AirPlay's content protection that would cause an application developer to prevent its use?

There is a somewhat related question concerning why some applications only play audio via AirPlay.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Airplay isn't a protected transfer mechanism, in the same way that playing (for example) a Blu Ray disc over a HDMI connection that supports HDCP.

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP; commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as High-Definition Copy(right) Protection) is a form of digital copy protection developed by Intel Corporation to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. These connections include popular ones like DisplayPort (DP), Digital Visual Interface (DVI), and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)

The system is meant to stop HDCP-encrypted content from being played on devices that do not support HDCP or which have been modified to copy HDCP content. Before sending data, a transmitting device checks that the receiver is authorized to receive it. If so, the transmitter encrypts the data to prevent eavesdropping as it flows to the receiver.

That's pretty technical, but in short (and this is not particular a developer choice, but the content owners choice) if they cannot guarantee that the content is fully secure end to end, they will not allow it to be transmitted. Airplay isn;t fully secure to the same degree as the above, and so many contents owners will not agree to it's use.

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It's the lack of content protection that prevents some popular streaming apps that cable companies are coming with from working with airplay. It wouldn't be difficult to reverse engineer and airplay protocol and record content and redistribute it, similar to how this one developer made an app to stream airplay from an idevice to a mac. She was able to figure out how the protocol worked just by examining it, which is a security flaw that could lead to piracy. (as if bit torrent doesn't exist lol)

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