Now more than ever, consumers are driving the way that their content is delivered and consumed across platforms. Content owners increasingly need to be able to respond and adapt in an agile manner to deliver quality content across every consumer device from the day they hit the market.
To stay relevant, operators must also focus on delivering the highest quality content possible. Premium content such as live sports content has long been the ultimate "must-have" for operators. In delivering live and on-demand content across multiple screens, operators have the opportunity to build customer loyalty and create new revenues. But unlike Video on Demand (VOD) content, the value of this type of premium content is intrinsically linked to its "live" nature, as viewers join to watch events unfold in real time.
The main challenge operators face with regards to live content is monetizing what they have in the short value window that exists. With the continuous rise in piracy of live streams, content security is a key factor in the monetization process and operators need to look at all of the necessary steps to detract paying customers from accessing content by illegal means. Operators who fail to adequately protect premium sports content not only risk losing valuable customers, but could lose their content rights altogether. Identifying and isolating the source of the illegal content should therefore become top priority for those concerned with live event broadcast.
With the proliferation of broadband access around the world, piracy now is easier than ever. Looking at piracy from a different perspective however, can teach broadcasters a lot more about their customers. By understanding the audience and the different motivations behind piracy, they have the opportunity to tackle each problem area using targeted measures. Working together with others in the industry, implementing the right technologies to protect their high value content, monitoring illegal activities and using intelligence to offer better services are all tools broadcasters have at their disposal.
|Countermeasures - technology, monitoring and intelligence
The sophistication of piracy requires increasingly powerful countermeasures. Content owners, especially sports rights holders must rely on a wide range of technologies, automated mechanisms and global collaboration networks to disrupt redistribution piracy. This includes, discovering how pirates market to consumers (linking sites, social media and piracy ads), tracking and disabling illegal streams in real time, tracing back to the origin of the pirate stream with watermarking, and catching real people behind piracy through investigation and evidence collection for prosecution.
Effectively tagging content is a crucial step for those looking to screen sports content online, and content watermarking allows broadcasters to embed unique invisible data in audio and video that can be used to trace individuals who are illegally redistributing content in real time. Once the source of the pirated content is identified, it can be shut down and further action considered against the pirate.
In addition, there is a need to locate the sites where stolen content is hosted, a task that has grown more complicated in recent years due to the proliferation hosting and indexing websites that offer illegal video. Having the knowledge to find these sites and remove content and links to live streams is a major plus point for content owners and broadcasters looking to secure their investment.
Fighting piracy is not only about disrupting the illegal distribution of content. The potential to gather intelligence about piracy patterns and content consumption trends from analysing data arising from stolen content is a great opportunity for broadcasters to take a step back and assess what they are offering their customers. Holes in the network become apparent and data analysis allows broadcasters to understand their audience and what more they can do to keep them interested and engaged with the brand.
By assessing this data, broadcasters can look to understand geographical patterns, access difficulties, and find out what they can alter in terms of product to turn illegal content consumers into paying customers .
Offering a superior experience - multi-screen
Operators have made great efforts to provide live streaming and catch up services across devices, as have some sports broadcasters. In delivering live and on-demand sports content across multiple screens, they have the opportunity to build customer loyalty and create new revenues. For example Irdeto works with Univision, a prominent American/Spanish language broadcast television network, to make sure that their content is protected across all screens, while providing a seamless, latency-free experience for consumers regardless of device.
Before operators realise these benefits however, one of the major stumbling blocks in transitioning to the multi-screen world is delivering a high-quality experience, similar to that which consumers are accustomed to seeing on traditional broadcast networks, while reaching as many consumer devices as possible.
This is where leveraging a flexible, robust managed service can offer extensive benefits. Having the ability to support a wide range of DRMs and similar rights-management technologies on the many screens already present in homes is the most important first step rights holders must take. By securely delivering content to PCs, mobile devices, as well as big TV screens connected to set-top boxes or dongles, they can maximize their reach to viewers and protect revenue streams.
Beyond securing content, however, operators and broadcasters must pay attention to the quality of the viewing experience. This is especially true for live sports. Well-designed solutions and managed services can deliver broadcast-quality streams even through the Internet. This is a key differentiator that can set the operators service apart from competing offers.
As we already know, consumers want their content delivered their way - and broadcasters have a tremendous opportunity to drive content consumption and revenue by integrating social TV and multi-screen services into the core part of their offering, creating a personalized experience that keep the viewers engaged.
Content discoverability is also an important factor. To boost this capability, they should consider offering personalised recommendations to make sure that consumers are finding the content that they want. This is a growing issue for younger viewers, with Irdeto research finding that some 42 per cent of 25-34 year olds and 55 per cent of 18-24 year olds see this as important or very important.
Turning insight into action
Piracy is one of the biggest threats to content providers, and as pirate networks and monetisation schemes get more sophisticated to cater to the growing demand of consumers who want access to the content wherever and whenever they want, rights holders need to have a very well thought out strategy in hand in order to be able to compete and protect their revenue. This is particularly true of sports content, with its high initial cost and short monetisation window.
Understanding the landscape of piracy, the motivations for illegal content consumption and distribution as well as knowing about the available countermeasures empower content providers to provide superior services while protecting their high value content.