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IPTV poses a significant threat to OTT broadcasters

Discover how IPTV is used to distribute live pirate content, and how leading OTT broadcasters are responding to the growth of digital piracy in our OTT Review 2020.

In 2014 worldwide IPTV revenue was worth a staggering 18.32 billion USD and was projected it to climb to 26.19 billion by 2020, with the US expected to generate 8.96 billion alone.

The level of consumers favoring pirate content over official sources continues to rise alongside the shift from traditional broadcasting methods to internet-based streaming.

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has existed for the past decade but has only recently reached mainstream audiences. IPTV has enabled broadcasters to transmit audio-visual content to mass audiences on a global scale. Recent advancements in technology continue to facilitate the retransmission and distribution of live content online as the theft of intellectual property continues to rise… IPTV is the perfect vehicle.

What is IPTV?

IPTV differs from traditional broadcasting methods such as Satellite and Cable TV where signals are either transmitted via radio waves or through a cable connection. These methods only support specific content which is made available through that signal. IPTV on the other hand uses internet connections to stream this content on a global scale meaning that content may be accessed from across the world.

IPTV is in fact used by many well-known subscription-based providers including Amazon, Netflix and Now TV, however broadcast rights prohibit the airing of certain content depending on the country or region.

OTT has become an increasingly popular way of consuming live content. You can discover what some of the leading broadcasters have to say about their plans, challenges, tips and anti-piracy strategies relating to OTT.

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IPTV facilitates piracy

Pirates are utilizing IPTV to illegally retransmit content. Users wishing to access pirate content via IPTV must first download a piece of software, some versions of this software are free, whilst higher, or even HD quality alternatives also exist on a subscription basis. You may be familiar with apps such as Plex, Kodi or VLC. Some may act as media players, but others offer direct access to pirate content without needing to download an m3u/m3u8 playlist.

This software can be accessed in a variety of ways, via laptop or desktop, Apple or Android device, a TV stick, through an app in a smart TV or a set top box linked up to a TV. These set-top boxes and the software are legal to buy assuming they have not been preinstalled by a reseller. When consumers buy or download unauthorized lists of URLs which link to TV channels, providing access to specific channels and content is when it becomes illegal.

Software set top boxes and lists of illegal URLs which link to channels across the world are all available to purchase online. They have become a leading source for accessing pirate content and can easily be found in marketplaces (such as Amazon, eBay and AliExpress), across social networks and on various websites.

They are often pre-loaded with URL lists linking to pirated content. Through a single, low cost subscription, subscribers can access literally thousands of channels from across the globe. What’s more, once these lists are purchased, they can be shared amongst friends and family without any additional payment.

These unauthorized URLs lead to all types of audio-visual content such as live sports and shows, films, television series and TV programs, and have caused significant damage to rights holders and official broadcasters alike.

Who does IPTV appeal to?

No longer is IPTV confined to tech-savvy individuals, and nor does it just appeal to younger generations. IPTV piracy is user friendly and easier to access than ever before.

Younger generations such as millennials have often taken the blame for the rise in the consumption of pirate content. However, these paid pirate subscriptions are appealing to those that are accustomed to paying for subscription-based services. The lower price point, the significant levels of content, and the high quality on offer are three key factors which are encouraging a diverse group of consumers who are seen to be migrating away from cable or satellite TV subscribers in favor of IPTV services.

Google trends recently reported that searches for online streams had now been overtaken by searches for IPTV content for the first time which highlights the demand for and popularity of IPTV content.

The scale of the problem

A 2019 Statista report looked at the countries with the largest IPTV subscribers in 2020. China ranked top (77.22 million), followed by the United States (16.14 million), France (8.74 Million), Japan (7.19 million) and Russia (7.13 million).

In 2014 worldwide IPTV revenue was worth a staggering 18.32 billion USD and was projected it to climb to 26.19 billion by 2020, with the US expected to generate 8.96 billion alone.

These stats paint a bleak picture for the industry as the popularity of these illegal services continues to pile on the pressure.

Broadcasters and rightsholders now consider pirates as direct competitors who are taking huge chunks of market share and revenue, driving down prices and providing content which legitimate broadcasters do not have the rights to air.

The popularity of set top boxes such as Kodi and OTT Player which support pirate IPTV subscription is evident by the amount available on the market. Competition for market share between pirates has created price wars which have driven the cost of pirate subscriptions even lower. No longer can legitimate broadcasters compete on price as they look to differentiate their content and services through innovation and technology.

The industry may soon begin to crumble under the strain as piracy continues to tighten its grip. Competition from broadcasters is driving the price of content such as live sports higher, however subscribers to legitimate platforms and services continues to fall. 

Fighting back

Now content can be shared easily across the globe, through multiple platforms and channels in seconds. The industry is working hard to make certain that high value content is protected from piracy, and strategies must be in place for rightsholders and broadcasters alike. A collaborative approach is essential.

Looking at IPTV piracy within the live sports industry, the necessity to track down and eliminate these retransmissions in minutes is crucial if they are to protect the value of their content. Take a football match for example, there is no use in eliminating pirate links in the 89th minute, the speed in which a response is required is a significant factor when considering anti-piracy strategies.

Laws in specific countries and regions are inconsistent. The introduction of more stringent punishments for those caught distributing these illegal retransmissions would perhaps cause some pirates to stop and think. It’s no secret that legal cases are expensive and a drain on resources, especially for small broadcasters. There is no silver bullet, but what is for sure is that content owners and broadcasters must attribute funds to counter the growing issue and this is best done through a third-party anti-piracy solution such as Smart Live Protection.

We’re here to help

We track down and eliminate illegal copies of your broadcasted events through our technology platform. ​​Our goal is to minimize the negative impact that such infringements have on your subscriptions, revenue and brand reputation. 

You can discover more about live broadcasting trends in 2020 and hear from some professionals in the field about their anti-piracy strategies and the challenges they’re facing.

Do you want to learn more about piracy in the OTT live events industry?

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