The Kodi Effect

There has been much discussion about the effect of ‘Kodi Streams’ on the piracy landscape in the last 12 to 18 months, and Friend MTS has been at the forefront of efforts to contain the damage this growing technology is doing to our clients’ businesses. Our Head of Professional Services Chris White, explains more.

The first thing to establish is that there is no such thing as a ‘Kodi Stream’.

Kodi itself is a free open-source media player developed by the non-profit organisation, XBMC Foundation. Kodi is available for multiple operating systems and hardware platforms (such as smart TVs, Android / IP set-top boxes, HDMI sticks, mobile devices etc.) with a user-friendly 10-foot user experience ideal for use with large screen TVs and remote controls as the primary viewing device in your living room. It allows users to play and view most streaming media, such as live streams, movies, TV shows, etc. as well as all locally stored media files.

Kodi itself does not have a proprietary format, rather it is a tool to allow ANY video content to be easily consumed.

It is a legitimate piece of software which originated as a media player application named Xbox Media Center (abbreviated as XBMC) for the first-generation Xbox game console. Its open architecture encourages the development of ‘add-ons’ or ‘plugins’, which enable third-party developers to create software to extend the functionality of Kodi.

It is this extensibility, along with the wide-ranging support for video formats, that has made it easy for pirates to offer easy to install add-ons that turn Kodi into the ultimate platform for easy consumption of pirated content sourced from our clients.

Slowly but steadily, piracy has moved away from downloads to streaming.

Indeed, recent estimates suggest that streaming services are already more popular than torrent sites; a trend that seems hard to stop. A major factor in this shift is ease of use – aside from having countless live streams, sporting events, movies and TV shows instantly available, it’s also incredible easy to stream high quality content on a regular TV through Kodi powered devices / set-top boxes. Compared to many advert-ridden torrent or streaming sites, the Kodi interface makes the streaming process far simpler and more enjoyable, especially when viewed on the large screen TV in your living room.

Kodi’s flexible interface, combined with numerous piracy add-ons, operated via a simple remote control interface on the first screen, is increasingly being used by unscrupulous viewers as an alternative to legitimate pay TV services, with a comprehensive line up of streams of pirated channels on the internet being identified by the Kodi add-ons to play on the device.

So, how does Friend MTS combat this issue for our clients?

As already described, the streams used by the Kodi add-ons  are not specific to this media player and  are often used elsewhere on the internet so, in many cases, these streams are identifiable using the core Friend MTS Linear service. Linear uses our sophisticated video fingerprinting technology paired with our Global Monitoring Platform.

Together, these quickly identify pirate streams and send take-down notices to the video hosting websites and the infrastructure providers that are hosting their video delivery servers.

In some cases the pirate streams are password protected and, in these instances, Friend MTS requires a simple subscription in order to attach our service to the streams. However, once connected, we can identify and act on these streams in the same way as the pirate streams hosted on the open Internet.

Additionally, where our client is a pay TV operator and has the ability to introduce either alphanumeric identifiers, or our ASiD watermarking service, any streams that are displayed within Kodi that are being monitored by the Friend MTS Global Monitoring Platform and are sourced from our clients’ platforms, will be automatically captured, and the subscriber that is stealing and rebroadcasting the content will be identified for further consequential action.

Stemming the flow of pirated content

Kodi is simply a method for streamlining the consumption of content and, more and more often, this is pirated content consumed via Kodi add-ons. Pay TV operators with a properly implemented video security and anti-piracy platform, incorporating Friend MTS services, can significantly reduce the chances of their channels appearing in Kodi players around the world.

Friend MTS is a leading global provider of platform, channel and content protection services. From fingerprinting and watermarking to advanced subscriber identification, we offer a full suite of managed services to help Pay-TV operators, rights holders and broadcasters control where their video content flows. We provide protection for live and non-live content across broadcast and OTT.

Click here to contact Friend MTS.

About the author

Chris White is Head of Professional Services at Friend MTS.

He is a highly experienced solutions architect with more than 15 years’ experience in creating premium internet video platforms for some of the world’s most successful pay-TV providers including Sky, Channel 4, OSN and AT&T.

Friend MTS has recently formalised a partnership with global tech giant Cisco to support the company in developing [...]

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