Combating Illegal Content Streaming and Piracy

As pay TV and OTT service providers battle to gain market share, they are investing heavily in premium content, advanced equipment, and technologies that support low latency and offer a better user experience. Despite efforts to maintain and gain subscribers, service providers are increasingly challenged by piracy and illegal content streaming. With a number of ways to illegally view video content, service providers are unfortunately poised to lose millions of subscribers each year, as well as billions of dollars in potential revenue.

A Battle Providers Cannot Afford to Lose 

Illegal streaming activity hurts the bottom line of content producers, video streaming service providers, and pay TV operators alike.  With more than 17% of worldwide users streaming content illegally, service and content providers are becoming increasingly diligent in their fight to prevent this pervasive activity. Their mutiny against video piracy will result in a content security market that will generate US$1.9 billion in 2020 alone. Anti-piracy specific solutions will reach US$172 million in 2021 and grow to US$229 million in 2024, representing 10% of the revenue generated by the total content security market

Increased Options, Growing Concerns

As the pay TV landscape shifts from linear service to video streaming services, the need for Over-the-Top (OTT) solutions and content delivery available to users at any time and to any device is increasing. Delivering video content anywhere, anytime, and to any device includes several considerations: infrastructure for content delivery, such as a Content Delivery Network (CDN); broadband network; encoding and decoding process for high-efficiency delivery; etc. One of the growing concerns within the video delivery industry is the increasing availability of pirated content through Internet connectivity. New methods of content piracy continue to evolve worldwide with credential sharing, content theft through weak points during delivery points, redistribution of pirated content, etc.. The availability of low-cost streaming boxes loaded with apps to access illegal content is becoming popular among consumers, creating a serious threat to pay TV and video streaming service providers.

Global Warning

Intellectual Property Rights organizations from around world have been warning the industry to batten down its hatches for an increasing level of video content piracy. Live streaming and live sports are at high piracy risk in Europe to the tune of a EUR$941 million loss for providers in the last year. In North America, 7.5 million households are reportedly accessing pirated content, costing providers over US$4 billion per year. Similarly, in premium content streaming through piracy websites or torrent sites are high in emerging markets in Asia-Pacific; resulting increasing number of consumers terminating legal pay TV services. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders imposed due to COVID-19 outbreak pushed the level of video content piracy higher. Piracy infringement tracking company Muso reported that there were 36% average daily torrent downloads between January and February 2020. Muso also indicated that significant increase in illegal video download was mainly driven by the COVID-19 lockdowns worldwide.

Key Players are Turning the Tide

Password and credential sharing, file sharing over the internet, and purchasing illegal streaming boxes are just a few ways consumers are currently pillaging video content. Although conditional Access Systems (CAS) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) have been used to securely deliver TV content via broadcast and IP networks, ever evolving pirate technologies are putting pressure on to deploy more advanced security solutions.

Watermarking and fingerprinting technologies, alongside emerging anti-piracy services, are the latest tools available to combat piracy. Service providers need to deploy these new technologies and, at the same time, do a proper assessment in partnership with content security solution/anti-piracy vendors on deployment costs, scalability, and time-to-market. Companies such as Irdeto and Synamedia focus on CAS/DRM and piracy tracking and monitoring services using watermarking and credential sharing tracking technologies to help content owners securely deliver content to end users.

Video service providers need all hands-on deck to make sure content is secured end-to-end. The integration of CAS, DRM, and anti-piracy partnerships for piracy tracking, pirate activity monitoring and response are all required to turn the tide on video piracy.

Learn More

These findings are from ABI Research’s DRM and Anti-Piracy Market Trends technology analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Video and Cloud Services research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights.