How to Use Continuous Network DVR Feature in PlayReady Premium and IIS Media Services Premium?


PlayReady 2.x Premium and IIS Media Services 5.0 Premium have enabled the following four key features which are needed for scalable live TV service:

  1. Industrial strength key rotation (both leaf license and root license);
  2. Blackout and its signaling;
  3. Linear ad insertion;
  4. Network DVR.

The author has written the following documents to cover the first three features:

  1. Mediaroom Component Technologies Reference Configuration, provides the design and configuration of an end-to-end MCT lab. Only MCT licensees have access to this download.
  2. Key Rotation, Blackout and Ad Insertion, provides detailed information on how to implement key rotation (both leaf and root leaf licenses), blackout and ad insertion. This document is available to PlayReady licensees. You can request it from

The purpose of this blog is to cover the 4th item, network DVR feature. These documents provide a thorough coverage of the how-to aspects of these important live TV features in IIS Media Services Premium and PlayReady Server SDK Premium.

Network DVR (NDVR), Network Personal Video Recorder (NPVR), or Remote Storage DVR (RS-DVR) refers to a DVR feature with DVR content stored on TV service providers’ servers rather than at users’ homes.

Understanding NDVR feature involves understanding the following archives and quantities:

  1. Two archive and NDVR types:
    • Session Network DVR and single presentation (per session) archive;
    • Continuous Network DVR and segmented presentation (single continuous) archive;
  2. DVR window length;
  3. Fragment TTL (Time To Live);
  4. Manifest window length;
  5. Archive segment length: the configured duration of each segment in continuous NDVR.

The following table summarizes the relationship among the two types of NDVR, archive, DVR content storage, DVR window length, manifest window length and segment length.



DVR Content Storage

DVR Window

Client Manifest

Continuous NDVR

Archive must be enabled:

DVR content shares with archive.

Physical storage is used (Default location: C:\inetpub\media\archives\)

  • DVRWindow length has no impact to storage;
  • Cannot set DVRWindow length in .isml;
  • Fragment TTL = Manifest Window Length = 2 (configurable) * Segment Length;
  • DVR window survives channel restart.

Due to Segmented manifest, small manifest regardless of the DVR window length.

Session NDVR

If archive is disabled:

DVR content is in memory.


Memory size depends on DVRWindowLength, bitrates & buffer overhead. E.g. 5 min can mean 350MB w3wp memory for 5 bitrates.

  • Should be set to a number to limit memory size;
  • Default=0 (unlimited);
  • DVRWindow Length

         = Fragment TTL

         = Manifest Window Length;

  • DVR window is lost after channel restart

A very large DVR window can result in a very large client manifest, which can impact startup and channel switch times.

If archive is enabled:

DVR content shares with archive.

  • With SegmentLength, archive is segmented;
  • Without  SegmentLength, archive is a single presentation;

Both under date folder.

  • DVR Window Length

        = Fragment TTL

        = Manifest Window Length;

  • DVR window is lost after channel restart


Network DVR Configuration

IIS Media Services v5 Premium provides GUI for network DVR configuration as shown below:

In addition, client manifest window length can also be configured in the management GUI (in multiple of segment length), as shown below.


The corresponding network DVR configuration in the live channel configuration file is shown below:

<Archive enabled="true" continuousNetworkDVR="true" autoDelete="false">


      <Path credentials="" useEventIdOnPath="false" />



  • credentials: Optional. Specifies the friendly name of the user credentials to use when creating archives. The credentials are defined through the Manage Credentials window in Channels view in IIS Manager.
  • useEventIdOnPath: Optional. true to use the event ID on the path instead of the auto-generated timestamp value; otherwise, false. The default value is false.


How to Access Each Segment in Network DVR?

The URL format for accessing the client manifest of a segment ishttp://server/channel.isml/Segments({segmentStartTime})/manifest . For example, the following URL’s are for 8 corresponding consecutive segments of archive/DVR content with segment length being 2 minutes:

  1. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168226400000000)/manifest
  2. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168227600000000)/manifest
  3. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168228800000000)/manifest
  4. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168230000000000)/manifest
  5. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168231200000000)/manifest
  6. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168232400000000)/manifest
  7. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168233600000000)/manifest
  8. http://localhost/LiveSmoothStreaming/LiveSmoothStreamingScalableLicense.isml/Segments(7168234800000000)/manifest

Note: In the above URL’s, if we add left-padding like in 0007200000000, it does not work. This is by design: if left-padded URL also works, CDN needs to have multiple entries for each segment, which is not optimal.

Now how can I start from a point in the middle of a segment?

  1. When user seeks to a position, find the corresponding time stamp (TS).
  2. From the time stamp, find the corresponding segment. And you can get the client manifest for the segment in the following format: http://server/channel.isml/Segments({segmentStartTime})/manifest.
  3. Load the manifest and seek to the corresponding time stamp (TS).

The actual URL for a fragment is as below:



The following code segment illustrates how the archived segments are retrieved and how their URL’s are constructured:

protected DataTable CreateDataTable()


            DataTable objDataTable = new DataTable("NDVR");

            objDataTable.Columns.Add(new DataColumn("Original Air Time", typeof(string)));

            objDataTable.Columns.Add(new DataColumn("1st Fragment Timestamp", typeof(long)));

            objDataTable.Columns.Add(new DataColumn("URL", typeof(string)));

            string dvrFolder = System.Configuration.ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["nDVR"];

            string[] segmentFolders = Directory.EnumerateDirectories(dvrFolder).ToArray<string>();

            string channelUrl = ddlChannel.SelectedItem.Value;

            int index;

            DateTime dateTime;

            DataRow objDataRow;

            foreach (string folder in segmentFolders)


                index = folder.IndexOf(@"\Segment") + 8;

                dateTime = this.Timestamp2DateTime(folder.Substring(index));

                objDataRow = objDataTable.NewRow();

                objDataRow[0] = string.Format("{0}", dateTime.ToString("MM-dd-yyyy HH:mm:ss"));

                objDataRow[1] = long.Parse(folder.Substring(index));

                objDataRow[2] = string.Format("SmoothStreamingPlayerTestPage.aspx?MediaSource={0}/Segments({1})/manifest", channelUrl, long.Parse(folder.Substring(index)).ToString());



            return objDataTable;


How does a playback navigate across multiple archive segments? The “magic” is in IIS Media Services 5 (yes, server side instead of client side) which knows how to navigate across segments to expose a single timeline.

There is a separate tool called IIS Media Services Archive Stitching Tool (available to MCT licensees only). The "stitching" tool can be used to combine segments from live archives into a single consolidated Smooth Streaming file.  The tool allows you to point at an existing live archive folder, set the start time and end time, and output a new directory of stitched .ismv, and manifest files for use in on-demand or encoding scenarios.

PlayReady Protection of Network DVR Archive and Root Licenses

If original live TV broadcast is PlayReady protected with scalable licenses, the segmented presentation archive (NDVR content) is also PlayReady protected with the leaf content keys used when the original live TV smooth streaming occurs. The client manifest for each segment contains Protection Header which, unlike regular VOD client manifest, does not contain license acquisition URL (LAURL) because this is scalable license scenario. The protection header content is shown below.


The following diagram shows the DRM portion of a MCT lab:

  • Smooth streaming origin servers acquire leaf licenses from leaf license servers and use the leaf licenses to encrypt each fragment of live smooth streaming;
  • A client player acquires root license from root license server and use root license to build the decryptor for fragment decryption.


Since the corresponding root licenses are required for decrypting the leaf content keys in segmented archive, all the needed root licenses must be present in client hashed data store. This implies we must keep all the needed root licenses on clients for the desired window of DVR support. If you set MediaLicense.RemovalDate property in your root license server, a proper value needs to be given so that those root licenses needed for DVR content are not removed from client secure hashed data store.

Let’s consider a hypothetical example: suppose root license rotates weekly during weekend and we need to make four weeks of NDVR contents available to subscribers. Suppose it is Monday today. Then a client needs to keep not only the root license for the current week, but also the four root licenses, one for each of the past four weeks, in order for subscribers to view not only the current live content and NDVR content for this week but also all NDVR contents for last four weeks.



How to Serve Archived Network DVR Content as VOD?

If the original live TV content is protected by leaf licenses, the following facts hold true:

  1. Archived DVR content in each segment is also protected by rotating leaf licenses;
  2. Corresponding root license(s) is (are) required to decrypt content key before fragment can be decrypted. If DVR window crosses root key rotation boundary, more than one root licenses are required in order to play DVR content.
  3. In each segment, client manifest contains <ProtectionHeader> which, unlike in regular protected VOD case, does not contain license acquisition URL (LAURL).

In order to create a publishing point to serve archived content as VOD, all we have to do is to create a copy of the live channel but without live stream ingest.

When playing each segment, the segment length is identical to VOD DVR window length (2 minutes in this example). The two screenshots below show two consecutive segments during playback.


Channel Restart

If you restart the live channel, the DVR content both before and after the restart will still be available.

The folder names are in the format of “Segment{timestamp}”, with time stamp increasing in the multiple of DVR segment length, which in this particular case, 2 minutes, or 120 seconds (1200000000 unit: 100 nanoseconds).  This naming convention insures that archive folders are identical across multiple origin servers for a live channel as long as the particular channels on all servers use the same segment length.

To ensure that each timestamp in folder names increases continuously, the input source must ensure that there is a continuously increasing timestamp on audio/video packets. Currently, only the Multicast - MPEG-2 TS source module in IIS Media Services v 5 Premium supports this behavior.

If you use TSMulticast tool to generate MPEG-2 TS stream using a set of multi-bitrate content, the tool will generate a time stamp consistent with machine time. For example, if TSMulticast generates a time stamp at UTC time 12-23-2012 01:18:00:00000, the time stamp will be 7250734800000000 and the resulting segment folder name will be Segment7250734800000000.

The conversion from timestamp to UTC time is through the following code:

 protected DateTime Timestamp2DateTime(string timestamp)


            double seconds = long.Parse(timestamp) / 10000000;

            DateTime start = new DateTime(1990, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, DateTimeKind.Utc);

            return start.AddSeconds(seconds);



In this blog we have covered the following aspects of continuous Network DVR feature in IIS Media Services 5 Premium and PlayReady Premium:

  • How to configure continuous Network DVR;
  • How to play Network DVR content;
  • How PlayReady protection works with Network DVR content and how to design root license removal date;
  • How channel restart impacts archived contents.
Comments (4)

  1. Hi,

    is there any chance to access to the key rotation document you mention?…/Key%20Rotation.docx



  2. Hi Giuseppe,

    The key rotation/blackout document link above is only accessible by Microsoft employees. You may request it by asking a local Microsoft account team member.



  3. Loke Dupont says:

    Hi William

    Any information about IIS Media Services v5 Premium, or any contact on where to get more information?

  4. Hi Loke,

    Please contact for licensing information for IIS Media Service v5 Premium and PlayReady Premium.



Skip to main content