Earlier this month, Gustavo Lerner of Verimatrix took part in a Dataxis webinar to discuss the latest trends in pirated sporting events throughout Latin America.

Global piracy ventures and severely compromised devices are trademarks of the Coronavirus age, luring viewers into a profitable economic cycle that seemingly benefits both the customer and provider. Illegal streaming platforms are making big money by completely curtailing all licensing fees and showcasing highly coveted content for hungry audiences looking to save a buck on entertainment.

Sports are a huge component of this puzzle, with Latin Americans closely following soccer leagues around the world – making the Premier League, La Liga, and other club-related sporting events an enormous piracy target. Police in the UK and other nations have begun cracking down on illegal piracy rings, some of which boast up to two million paying subscribers. Premier League clubs lose approximately $1.2 million per illegally streamed game, making the potential legal hassles worthwhile for many of these piracy organizations.

The model is simple and lucrative: Illegal streamers steal sought-after entertainment, sports games, and other content that is guaranteed to woo viewers from a more credible, and likely more expensive, streaming platform. Since the content is stolen, any cost related to paying for the right to stream is completely eliminated, allowing these piracy rings to charge a small, unbeatable subscription fee. If the illicit platform draws a large audience, it could also attract advertisers who pay per click, skyrocketing the piracy profit margin.

Following the money trail isn’t impossible, however. Breakthroughs in forensic technology and their subsequent creative applications have paved a new road for content creators struggling to secure their product. Watermarking is a highly sophisticated tool that detects and identifies the origin of a pirated video. Each video player has a unique watermark, allowing for simple, yet accurate traceability. When implemented successfully, watermarking can act as an undercover cop against pirates who unknowingly extract content from a device or distribute it illegally.

In addition to watermarking and understanding where the money goes, audience education is a key component of ensuring content is securely viewed. Not all platforms are alike, with many pirated streaming platforms offering an alternative that already exists within a secure, legitimate streaming service. By incorporating watermarking into the anti-piracy strategy, both viewers and streaming platforms can benefit from a secure, legitimate viewing experience.