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Sports Media: How Rights Owners Can Prioritize Security in the Shift to D2C

Professional soccer player in field alone

Even before the pandemic, there was a perceptible shift in sports media consumption: Fan experiences were moving more and more to the digital space. COVID has only accelerated the process, especially after throwing a wrench in the spectatorship at live sporting events.

For rights owners, making the move from stadiums and arenas to mobile apps and live streams enables new sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Offering live sports content directly to consumers (D2C) rather than channeling it through third parties means that rights owners have more power over their brand’s interactions with fans. However, this also means that owners take on content security risks that were previously outsourced to distributors.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about content and application security if you’re considering making the shift toward D2C:


Prioritize Security to Protect Your Brand and Your Users


According to one report, the NFL’s broadcasting rights amounted to more than four billion U.S. dollars domestically in 2019, and 120 million U.S. dollars overseas. Since money is a hacker’s main motivation, that kind of valuation for a franchise is far more than enough to turn a sports brand into a target. Consumers now have multiple touchpoints to interact with their favorite teams, and each one should be secure. Now more than ever, it is critical that rights owners take initiative to protect their content, assets, and end users.

From eTickets to in-app purchases and sports betting, safeguarding your brand is more than just piracy detection during live sports streams. A well-rounded security approach involves properly shielding apps to prevent re-packaging and data breaches, providing strong biometric authentication to ensure that only authorized users can view premium content, and protecting payment technology to keep revenue and user data safe.

While watermarking solutions help owners detect and deter piracy, application shielding solutions protect digital content on other fronts. According to Lu Bolden, Chief Revenue Officer of Verimatrix, “The last thing you want is for your brand to be the reason that consumer data got out into the wild. This is a risk not only for the individual, but for the brand itself. Protecting data channels and ensuring that data is stored in a secure manner is critical to the trust that consumers put in sports brands.”


Avoid Clunky Security Solutions to Keep Fans Engaged


Rights owners have a lot to think about when it comes to protecting sports content – the entire delivery chain must be secure to avoid piracy leaks, data theft, and hacked media applications. However, it’s also important to ensure that security doesn’t get in the way of seamless, easy consumer experiences. The last thing fans wants while trying to watch the game is a security roadblock when they open their app or go to cast the content from their mobile device to their TV.

The best content security is invisible—if it’s done correctly, end users will never know it’s there.


Leverage Secure Data to Uncover Actionable Business Insights


Keeping premium content and subscriber data secure has benefits that extend beyond preventing piracy and breaches. With the right analytics tools, content owners can use secure data to uncover consumer behavior insights that can guide better business decisions, strategic advertising, and personalize fan experiences.

As the world of live sports content moves toward D2C distribution models, rights owners can now leverage and monitor real-time video data that once belonged to third parties. Ultimately, analytics can help owners reduce subscriber churn, optimize viewer experiences, and drive premium content revenue.


Protecting the Entire Content Chain in a D2C Model


Finding the right security partner to protect premium content and media apps is a major step in shifting toward a D2C distribution model. Verimatrix offers frictionless, friendly security that won’t interfere or interrupt fan experiences. With a suite of application shielding solutions and award-winning content protection products, Verimatrix is protecting the future of sports.

Want to learn more about how to navigate the rapidly changing sports media market? Check out SportsPro’s recent webinar, “Death of Sports” featuring Verimatrix’s CRO, Lu Bolden. For more information about digital security and sports media, listen to Lu’s interview with Eoin Connolly on SportsPro’s podcast.

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