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The Battle for Viewers: Competing against Piracy Part I

Everyday, legitimate streaming services are competing with pirated sites for viewers. In the streaming wars – where every viewer matters – streaming service providers with comprehensive security will most likely thrive. When a consumer wants free content, they will seek out the weakest link. Service providers need to assess their risks and vulnerabilities, and weigh what would happen to their business without the proper security in place.

Without a doubt, streaming services have changed the way consumers watch content and at the same time they have also revolutionized piracy. Content redistribution has surged in the past few years through a number of means. One study reported almost 26.6 billion views of U.S. movies and 126.7 billion viewings of U.S. TV shows are illegally streamed annually, worldwide, primarily outside of the US. This shows a loss of revenue of between 11% – 24% for this content alone. This same report cited 80% of piracy is attributable to streaming. Add in international content and according to a 2020 Parks & Associates report the global losses could equal $67 billion. 

Piracy Business Models

 

Pirates need your content so they can build their business. They will restream live high-value events, offer video on demand (VOD) libraries and run full-fledged businesses using your content and the exact same business models that legitimate services use: advertising video on demand (AVOD) or subscription on demand (SVOD) and pay-per-view. These copycat services are even increasingly fooling consumers into thinking they are signing up for legitimate content from known brands. 

There are two trends here: either recreating an app for illegal gain, or using the app framework as an entry point to go after customer and corporate data.

3 Tenets of Security

 

The same popularity that has pushed consumers to binge watch has also attracted more and more sophisticated illegal activity. The way to counter this and protect revenue is to incrementally build a security strategy, in the same way you build and modify your technology stacks over time, adding components as required.

Media and entertainment companies have an extrinsic need to better protect their businesses by broadening their knowledge and strategic planning around streaming security. Anything less and you’re leaving significant profit on the table. Using the 11 – 24% revenue loss means, $110,000 – 240,00 per million dollars of revenue is going to piracy. That’s quite a haircut.

Many are familiar with DRM because it is the baseline requirement to license high value content, as well as authorize users to access content. However there are additional layers of security to consider to protect your IP as you build and evolve your business.

To frame the security discussion for streaming services, there are three main tenets for building a strategy:

  1. Prevention – putting measures in place to prevent leakage of content and data.
  2. Monitoring & Traceability – the ability to identify and trace illicit streams back to their source so takedown or legal action can commence.
  3. Authentication – making authorization easier to improve the user experience.

If security gaps are present within any one of these tenets, streaming providers are at risk. This includes losing revenue from pirated content, damaged brand reputation from data breaches, and subscriber churn from a cumbersome user authentication experience. When considering the dizzying number of devices, models, operating systems, security requirements and threat models, it is easy to see how this requires focused analysis and planning to create the right security strategy.

Through this blog series, we will help streaming service providers understand where their security vulnerabilities exist and what security methods will best protect, and ultimately enhance, their businesses in the most cost-efficient manner.

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