Customized protection for OTT platforms

A tsunami threatens OTT platforms every time they launch original content. Discover the keys to protect streaming services against digital piracy.

Today, OTTs' real competition is piracy, as it competes against its own illegally distributed content.

OTT platforms face a piracy tsunami every time they release new and original content on their platforms. Being made immediately available on millions of devices across the internet, it is almost impossible to prevent piracy, making protection essential.

We hear from Sébastien Bouyer, Strategic Product Manager at Smart Media Protection, who holds the keys to our new OTT platform protection service, adapted to their specific needs, addressing the issues of piracy in the streaming entertainment sector.

What is the main problem that OTT platforms face nowadays?

We have been working with various OTT platforms for a number of years, all with a subscription based B2C strategy. This subscription-based business model can only be profitable if it has many subscribers, so the major problem they face is the high cost of not only attracting new users, but also retaining them.

New technologies have changed the way in which we consume audiovisual content, and streaming has become the main way to gain instant access to movies and series online. For this reason, the ideal content for OTT platforms are series, which represent the central strategy for attracting and building customer loyalty.

How can content protection help to solve this problem for OTT platforms?

We have developed a new specialized protection service to support OTT platforms that responds to a latent market need. We have worked with various OTT platforms for some time, for whom we are already offering this service, delivering high levels of quality and satisfaction.

The protection dynamics of OTT content is very different from that of a movie release, as the content is immediately available across millions of screens throughout the world.

The level of piracy to which content is exposed on an OTT platform is far greater than that of content which premiers in cinemas. Availability makes it easier to pirate, therefore a fitting service is required, adapted to combat immediate piracy, on a huge scale.

It is simple to capture the screen of a computer and transmit signals with high quality across the internet illegally. However, in the case of movies which premier in cinemas the process is not so straightforward; As they are unavailable on the internet, cybercriminals must resort to other recording methods which deliver a lower quality.

Who is this new Smart Media Protection service for?

The service is intended for customers with an OTT platform, who have exclusive content on which we can legally act to eliminate illegal copies under copyright law.

We also offer a monitoring service, providing visibility on the level of piracy of third-party content where distribution rights have been acquired. This gives OTT platforms more visibility and information, allowing them to obtain greater economic benefits from this content and negotiate better prices.

It is crucial to have local knowledge of piracy to be able to act against it. For this reason, we are focusing our efforts on Europe, North America, and South America.

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What is the difference between the protection service an OTT and a distributor require? Are there any?

A distributor has a reduced catalogue of films and the lifespan of its contents is much greater. The catalogue of OTT platforms is mostly composed of series, making it broader, with a higher level of piracy, and a shorter lifespan. If immediate action is not taken, the content reduces in value, which accelerates day after day.

On the other hand, the piracy of a movie released in the cinema has two key peaks, at the time of the premiere, and when it enters the VOD (Video on Demand) window.

How does the Smart Media Protection technological platform work?

This new OTT service is intended for large volumes, entire series and movie catalogues. Another difference between these platforms and a distributor is that they provide considerably more titles, and they offer a greater range of series than movies. There are various episodes at risk of piracy that must be monitored and eliminated quickly and efficiently.

With our technological platform, we detect URLs which link to pirate content on the internet, and act to ensure that they are no longer accessible. We monitor and eliminate audiovisual content on streaming, direct file download websites, and on social networks. We also delist URLs on Google search results (including URLs from torrent pages).

What are the consequences of audiovisual piracy in the film industry, and why is it so important to fight it?

Audiovisual piracy and the consumption of pirate content, at the user experience level, is very similar to that of the original consumption. Furthermore, in the case of OTT it is very likely that pirate content has almost the same level of quality as content broadcast via the original source.

It is essential to have control over the levels of content piracy to have visibility of the problem and understand its magnitude. It is impossible to act against the illegal distribution of content if there is no understanding of what is happening on the different online channels. In many cases, when companies do not achieve the sales that they were expecting it could be due to piracy, but without visibility of the issue they will not understand the reason why.

Today, OTTs’ real competition is piracy, as it competes against its own illegally distributed content. This can be very dangerous if left unchallenged simply because content on the internet is shared instantly, on a massive scale, and in many cases free of charge.

Why is it necessary to protect original audiovisual content?

As we have already mentioned, the core of the OTT platforms’ customer engagement and loyalty strategy revolves around creating exclusive original content. As soon as this content is freely available on other internet sources, the potential client sees no reason to subscribe to the original platform and the current client may cancel their subscription. When the exclusivity of the content is lost, so is its value.

We consider it essential for any OTT to integrate protection which includes both monitoring and elimination of content which is illegally retransmitted online. Through our technological platform, our clients will obtain visibility of piracy of their content levels, and in turn, notifications and the elimination of all the infringements found.

Is it important to protect third party content present on an OTT platform?

Of course, it is very important to have visibility of piracy levels of the content included in a catalogue, especially when paying for the exclusive rights.

Our service enables OTT platforms to monitor all the titles included in their online catalogue, even if they are not the owners of the intellectual property rights.

In many cases, an OTT platform can acquire content for a specific territory, and later discover that it is available from numerous unauthorized sources on the internet. This visibility allows OTT platforms to negotiate better prices or a higher level of protection in their distribution area, to obtain greater profitability of these contents.

We have seen a significant increase in the consumption of online audiovisual content. Do you believe that we are facing a change in consumer behavior? How does this affect OTTs?

Pirate consumption increases in line with digital consumption, which is why both offerings grow side-by-side. Today’s consumers have a greater appetite for direct audiovisual content, on demand, with little or no advertising. Viewers can consume entire series at high speed, which is how the concept of binge-watching has evolved.

This way of consuming mass content means that OTT platforms must constantly search for new content, providing a wide range, mixing original content with content from other rightsowners to have an attractive and competitive catalogue.

Along with this growth, online piracy has also grown, why is it more important than ever to have a protection service?

If you do not have a piracy protection service you are in the dark, you do not have the visibility required to act and make decisions. Completely eliminating piracy is very difficult, however, the important thing is to limit it in the places where it is most prominent.

Streaming, or direct downloads represent the most popular way of sharing illegal content, and for this reason you should have more control.

Piracy mimics legal behavior: consumers want to access content quickly and directly to avoid risks of downloading viruses.

There is a content war between the main OTT platforms to attract new customers. How does Smart Media Protection protect OTTs that are facing an increase in online piracy?

Original content is key to attracting new subscribers, so it is essential to renew content catalogues frequently. We are at a time when new actors constantly appear. The consumer is not willing to pay for two or three services, so the risk of them resorting to illegal content is high.

However, by integrating a content protection service like the one we offer in Smart Media Protection, we limit the availability of illegal content, forcing the consumer to access the desired content by legal means.

OTT protection results January 2019 – May 2020

Since January 2019, we, at Smart Media Protection have been working with various OTT platforms, achieving very favorable results whilst protecting their original content catalogues.

In the graph above we can see the behavior of the pirate consumer. More than 60% of the illegal URLs that we detected are from streaming and direct downloads: we discovered that the consumer wishes to access content in just three clicks, they do not want to wait, which makes this experience increasingly similar to that of the original content.

We also found results in search engines (9.14%) and in social networks (5.98%) that are used to promote web pages where content streams are hosted, or where links for direct download can be found.

What is the benefit for OTT platforms that acquire the protection of Smart Media Protection?

The main value is the visibility of pirated consumption, we at Smart Media Protection provide information that allows the client to decide what actions they wish to take on the illegal copies that our technological platform discovers whilst tracking the internet. We offer advice relating to the elimination actions that can be carried out, providing support to our clients throughout the process.

How do you see the future of OTT platforms?

Competition is likely to continue growing, as the number of OTT platforms on the market multiplies. In this growth of the sector, the original content will remain the protagonist since, as we have mentioned, it is the central strategy in attracting and retaining users. For this reason, protecting this content is essential to migrate consumers of pirate content to the original platform.

Do you want to know if your audio-visual content is being pirated online?

Your content could be at risk from digital piracy, request your free Content Scan today.