Introduction to Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) API

Mon Mar 20 2023

3 min read

Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) play a crucial role in the secure delivery of copyrighted content to millions of users through online media streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

EME helps to encrypt the content and prevent unauthorized access to it, ensuring that it can only be accessed by paying subscribers who have the necessary rights to view it.

Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) API

Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is a Web API that is used to play encrypted media content in web browsers. EME allows the playback of encrypted media without the need for browser-specific plugins or extensions.

How does it work?

When a user accesses a website that offers encrypted media content, the website sends a request to the server for the encrypted media file. The server then responds with the encrypted file, which the browser cannot directly play.

EME API steps in at this point by providing a standardized way for the browser to request the necessary decryption keys from the content provider. Once the decryption keys are obtained, EME passes them to the browser's media playback component, which then uses them to decrypt and play the media content.

In simpler words, EME API serves as a mediator between the browser and the content provider's digital rights management (DRM) system, allowing the two to communicate and decrypt the content securely.


EME API consists of three primary components:

  1. MediaElement: This component represents the HTML5 media player used to display the media content on the webpage.
  2. Content Decryption Module (CDM): This component is responsible for decrypting the encrypted media content.
  3. Key System: This component is responsible for managing the keys used to decrypt the content. Each DRM system has its own key system.

Why use Encrypted Media Extensions API?

Let’s now look at why we should use this API in our applications.

Robust security features

EME API provides a robust set of security features, including encryption, authentication, and key management. This helps to protect media content from unauthorized access and distribution, while also providing content providers with more control over how their content is accessed and consumed.

Ability to support different DRM systems

EME API is designed to be DRM-agnostic, which means that it can support a wide range of different digital rights management (DRM) systems. This flexibility allows content providers to choose the DRM system that best fits their needs, and to switch to a different system if necessary.

Potential limitations

EME API can create potential limitations on user access to content, particularly for users who are using older browsers or devices that are not compatible with EME API. This can create a fragmented user experience, with some users being unable to access certain types of content or features.


EME API is supported by most modern web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. However, there are still some older browsers and devices that may not support EME API, which can limit the accessibility of content for certain users.

Wrap up

That's all from this guide. Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) API is an essential web standard for online media streaming services that allow for the secure delivery of copyrighted content to users. If you want to learn more about web APIs like EME, check out our Web APIs category.