FEED Autumn 2021 Newsletter

Words by Simon Brydon, senior director of security business development, Synamedia

Content theft and illegal streaming are a constant threat – and it’s one which cannot be ignored

roadcasting is a high-risk, high stakes business. Unless you run an illegal pirate OTT service. What

provisions are sufficient to protect content. There is no silver bullet; you need a range of anti-piracy solutions, alongside intelligence services. Pre-breach content security solutions include watermarking, accreditation and concurrency security measures. While post-breach measures identify pirate streams, services and providers. Identifying piracy is one half of the equation. But it needs to be complemented by disruption – to degrade the quality and reliability of streams, including pixelating the picture or cutting the signal. Once pirate viewers get frustrated, they’ll start switching off. Another technology solution is content monitoring. Knowing what’s being shown, and by whom, is crucial for contract negotiations between broadcasters and rights owners. A licensee contract could include a mandate from the rights owner to use watermarking, as well as OTT security. But when content is at distribution stage, and piracy is detected, unfortunately the only legal solution is to issue takedown notices to ISPs. BECOME PIRACY SAVVY Senior leadership we talk to want to know if their platform is secure, if their concurrencies can be broken, and how bad their piracy problem is. Only by knowing about their vulnerabilities

was once a cottage industry has swollen into a complex ecosystem of suppliers, distributors and resellers – of crime syndicates and ‘shop fronts’ – and into arguably one of the most widespread criminal heists the world has ever seen. While hundreds of pirate streaming sites abound, the bigger problem is paid IPTV services. Pirates bundle together thousands of high-quality channels into illegal services, that are available on app stores, or even pre-installed on devices. We believe there are over 120,000 IPTV content wholesalers and resellers. Imagine offering a 40,000-channel package: premium content and live sports, with no geo-restrictions and minimal expense. That’s what illegal pirate OTT services do – they are the ultimate media super-aggregators. How can a legal broadcaster compete when it’s not a fair fight? SHARPEN YOUR WEAPONRY The escalation in piracy tends to be due to a general lack of industry and public awareness, as well as increased vulnerability levels. Few people truly understand the extent of the problem, while others mistakenly believe that current security

can they then tackle the issues. No company – full stop – wants to admit they have security issues, but the problems still need to be resolved. There is a lot of lost revenue at stake. Addressing the problem head-on is tough in the short term, but far less costly than the collapse of the entire business. One way to shift mindset is to move anti-piracy measures away from the cost column, and instead consider it as a spend to convert pirate audiences into paying customers. A unified, industry-funded body, aimed specifically at tackling piracy, would be an important step. Without more of a concerted effort, a bleak future awaits. While some might point to how piracy reshaped the music industry, we mustn’t forget it was traumatic at the time – and revenues in the early 2000s dropped off a cliff. If we all collaborate and sharpen our wits, we can break up these pirate super- aggregators and take back control.



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