To say that the media and entertainment industry is changing quickly is an understatement. The degree of change, and kind of impact, for the over-the-top (OTT) world, are of magnitudes we have never seen.
Consider this. The global OTT streaming market is expected to grow from $104.11 billion in 2019 to $161.37 billion in 2020. This remarkable 55% compound annual growth rate is primarily due to the changes in viewership patterns that COVID-19 has brought about. As more people have stayed at home in efforts to slow the spread of the virus, OTT subscriptions and viewership have shot up. While growth is expected to slow somewhat, we also know that more people than ever have been “cutting the cord” when it comes to cable services. The era of streaming content is here to stay.
The story goes beyond just raw numbers, though. We are seeing an increasing number of consumers choosing to pay for not just one, but often, several, OTT services. They’re attracted by the wide array of available content, flexible subscription options and low price points.
With more demand come more players and more options, and we’ve seen competition in the OTT space intensify. The continually increasing number of companies in the market, combined with a cap on consumers’ monthly video spend, mean OTT churn is also on the rise.
OTT providers are finding themselves operating in an environment where creating and offering exclusive content is absolutely essential to attract new subscribers and ensure loyalty among current ones. Exclusive content is key to maintaining competitive advantage, too. When one service introduces quality original content, it ups the ante for other services to do the same. As demand grows, OTT services need to develop more quality, exclusive content to attract and keep subscribers. At times, it seems like we’re watching “OTT Streaming Wars.”
Further adding to the mix is premium video on demand (PVoD) service, in which studios are making ready-to-release movies available for home entertainment earlier than ever. Consider the recent release of “Hamilton,” airing more than a year ahead of schedule.
In the sports world, exclusive content is taking new forms with the virtual season ticket (VST). Allowing fans to watch live streaming coverage of all of a team’s events (or selected groups of events) for a season, the VST provides the chance for supporters to immerse themselves in the events while social distancing measures remain in place.
All of this leaves OTT service providers in an especially precarious position. Creating and offering more and more quality, exclusive content at a faster clip is one thing. Protecting that content from theft by commercial pirates is another. Without a thorough, proven method to do so, these providers will be unable to safeguard their content’s integrity, and consequently, their profit, reputation and subscriber numbers.
Commercial pirates, or “bad actors,” are capitalizing on the fragmentation of content we’re experiencing now. When consumers subscribe to more than one streaming service to access all the content they want to watch, it becomes very difficult for legitimate content owners and providers to compete with illegal subscription services. Pirate content aggregators, unrestricted by any licensing agreements, are ardently monetising stolen content in the market. They then seek to appeal to consumers looking for a one-stop shop for desired sports and entertainment programming.
Using advanced technology and sophisticated techniques, pirates will use a legitimate subscription and easily available screen-recording software for screen scraping to steal content, for example. They can capture video output simply, re-encode and redistribute it using their own infrastructure, and monetise the stolen content. Basically, for what it costs to buy a few cups of coffee, they can steal content.
At one time, digital rights management (DRM) was thought of as the only anti-piracy tool needed. While it remains an important piece of an effective anti-piracy strategy, it’s not enough. Today, OTT providers need to incorporate subscriber-level watermarking to identify subsequent restreaming.
Today’s advanced watermarking services are enabling OTT providers to identify the specific individuals responsible for illegally redistributing their content – then disrupting content theft in minutes by revoking the access of the bad actors.
At Friend MTS, our ASiD watermarking and content monitoring service addresses complex content protection challenges with client-composited watermarking. Providing fast watermark extraction for services of all sizes, client-composited watermarking is less expensive to implement than other types of watermarking, and it offers broad coverage across new and legacy devices. Continually updated algorithms and payload handling prevent sophisticated tampering attacks.
If you’re living in the competitive OTT service world, and are concerned about protecting your highly valued content (and the revenue it generates), let us know. We’d like to talk with you about how ASiD from Friend MTS can help you protect your revenues.
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