NAB 2022, it was good to be back!

John Ward EVP Americas, Friend MTS

If, like me, you were able to visit the recent NAB show, you’ll have noticed the amazing atmosphere that permeated the whole event, as we all made the most of getting back to the personal touch and face-to-face meetings. It was great to be back and the tangible buzz suggested that everyone else was as hyped about it as I was. And that was before we got to try the Tesla tunnel and the new West Hall!

But aside from the great atmosphere, NAB 2022 represented a welcome opportunity to reconnect with friends, peers and partners to discuss and debate the latest challenges in the world of sports, media and entertainment, and the amazing technologies that we as a community are developing to address them.

For the Friend MTS team, of course, content security and anti-piracy were our major focus points, and NAB 2022 was a great opportunity to discuss how this important subject is increasingly moving to the forefront of the minds of media and sports broadcasters and rights holders. 

I discussed some of these issues with Claire Plaisted in the Connected Media IP studio, providing an overview of some of the major impacts of content piracy: increased costs, subscriber churn, revenue loss, increased rights costs etc., and how content security tools such as forensic watermarking, monitoring and business intelligence can help combat these. 

A wider view of the content security landscape was the theme for a discussion I had with Ali Hodjat, VP of Marketing at our partner Intertrust Expressplay. Our conversation ranged from what constitutes a true ‘end-to-end’ solution, through the integration of DRM, conditional access and watermarking, with a focus on the measures broadcasters and distributors need to consider when deploying a valid content security system that genuinely protects content at every stage of the distribution chain.

On the Sunday, I was honoured to join a very distinguished panel of fellow content security representatives, discussing the impact of content piracy in the modern era and how it can be reduced. I was joined in the CMIP theatre by Alec Henthorne of castLabs, David Eisenbacher of EZDRM, Itzik Vager of Synamedia and Vinod Kashyap of Digital Element, for a really engaging panel discussion that concluded that piracy is a significant issue that is even more threatening than service providers and platform operators believe. There were some quite eye-opening statistics around the extent of revenue loss through content piracy, and some excellent examinations of how pirates evolve to make use of the latest technologies, targeting the weakest links in the content security chain. The panel provided great insight from a talented group of people who really know this subject, and it’s well worth a watch.

From all of the discussions I had at NAB 2022, including individual conversations with partners and customers, a couple of fundamental truths emerged: it is vital that organisations acknowledge piracy as a real threat to income, revenue and ultimately job security and the wider economy, and to take a proactive stance to combat it. This includes allocating resources to tackle it as part of wider content security measures. After all, the costs involved in creating or licensing premium content are massive – investment in protecting that content from theft that ultimately devalues it (and your business) is minimal in comparison to the losses that are regularly incurred by broadcasters and distributors.

Coming at what I sincerely hope are the last stages of a terrible couple of years, I can genuinely say that NAB 2022 was one of the most memorable I have attended. Thanks to everyone who made it, and said hi; I hope you’re looking forward to next year as much as I am. Happy travels.

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In some regions of the world, stolen content represents as much as half of all video content consumed, according to [...]

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