by Ali Hodjat, Director of Product Marketing, Intertrust
Total losses to piracy of live streamed content are skyrocketing and calculations of projected revenue loss due to online video piracy keeps going up. In 2020, Parks Associates released a report showing that the earlier projection of $51.6 billion by 2022 from Digital TV Research had already been surpassed in 2019, with a global loss calculated at over $57 billion. Parks predicted the losses would top $67 billion in 2023.
Value and type of streaming theft
Live streaming theft is a serious problem, and a closer look at the value and type of streaming piracy is critical to implement the overall service protection strategy against streaming theft. It is not enough for operators to just be alerted when there is a leak. Instead they need to detect illegal activity at any point and at any time in the content creation and distribution chain.
The type of streaming theft can be divided into piracy sites, apps, and devices in one category, with credential sharing and restreaming in the second category. As part of the total estimates of $67 billion lost to streamed content theft in 2023 by Parks Associates, about 55 billion of that total is from access to piracy sites, apps, and devices and the remaining 12 billion dollars is from individual credential sharing and restreaming. In the U.S. alone, 20% of broadband households report they use a piracy device, app, or website, according to Parks Associates.
How video pirates find success
Pirates can deliver premium-quality services with professional-caliber EPGs and generate subtitles in multiple languages, letting them reach audiences anywhere in the world. They can collect analytics data from clients and servers to tabulate device usage data, gauge the popularity of content offerings, and perform troubleshooting in conjunction with sophisticated customer support services. Remarkably they can do all this while benefiting from ad revenues generated by online ad networks that mistake them for legitimate operations.
Consumers have no trouble finding these sites, even though, to protect themselves, pirates frequently reskin and rename their storefronts using new URLs. Users can subscribe to what is known as M3U playlists, which direct Kodi-enabled devices or PCs, STBs, and smart TVs running certain types of players or apps to pirate sites. These playlists can be found through search engines or through specialized social media accounts.
Without having to pay for such listings, users searching for video streaming services can easily come across online listings for legitimate sources as well as pirate sites, with nothing distinguishing them except big discounts for the illegitimate services. Consumers can also find instructions that lead them through the process of downloading Kodi software, or point them to sources of devices pre-loaded with Kodi software and, in some cases, pirated content.
How to benefit from an anti-piracy strategy
While the impact of piracy on live streaming services is significant and cannot be ignored, the right security strategy is critical in order to protect the value of the assets and the service revenue. The content producers and distributors are learning that investment in aggressive counter measures pays off. They realize that by mitigating risks associated to piracy, the anti-piracy services will help them to reduce subscriber churn and reduce the lost revenue. By converting piracy subscribers to legitimate/paying subscribers, there will be more paying subscribers and more revenue, and it ultimately will reduce the total cost of content distribution per subscriber.
A growing body of evidence shows that when anti-piracy initiatives are mounted against sports and other live-streamed content piracy, they can have a disproportionately devastating and immediate impact on illegal operatives compared to what it takes to thwart illicit viewing of time-shifted material. In 2019 the U.K.’s Sky reported it had benefited from massive streaming disruptions to pirated EPL games the year before. After the league and distributors cooperated to disrupt over 200,000 illegal streams, Sky said viewership of 17 matches carried by its services more than doubled the combined audience totals for the previous two years.
The importance of an anti-piracy strategy
It has never been more important to not only understand the global trends and big business of online video theft, but to determine the risks your content is facing in this new era of piracy. That’s where the Intertrust anti-piracy experts can help. Our security specialists can guide you to uncover the potential vulnerabilities your live streaming content may be exposed to and, above all, what to do about it. Applying the right anti-piracy strategy can result in new subscribers and increased revenue. Schedule a free anti-piracy consultation here.
Ali Hodjat is the Head of Marketing for the Media Solutions business at Intertrust Technologies, with a focus on content protection, pay-TV security, and anti-piracy services.
[ Note: Intertrust Technologies is a valued Sponsor of Piracy Monitor. ]