Aargh, Ha, Me Hearties – How Do You Fight Sports Piracy?

It’s gotten so bad, NBC presenters covering Premiership football are very nearly welcoming “our pirate viewers” to the show.

Providing live sports content illegally is big business, and the sector is growing, with a 20% increase in the number of people visiting sports-related pirate sites, from 100 million in September 2015, to 120 million in September last year.

Be honest, perhaps you’ve even had a sneaky peek yourself during the height of the footie, rugby, NFL or NBA season?

Now that’s not to say that pirate sites are seriously affecting live sports viewing figures – after all, 167m people watched last year’s Superbowl and 19 million jumped on iPlayer last year to watch the Rio Olympics “Super Sunday”. But broadcasters are desperate to keep on top of the situation.

In a recent blog post ahead of the Cable Congress 2017, which takes place from 8th-9th March in Brussels, Mark Mulready of platform security agency Irdeto has outlined some of the strategies being employed to make it harder for pirate sites to operate, so whichever side of the fence you are on, it’s worth taking note.

Mulready recommends an “intelligence driven approach with a 360 degree view of piracy”. Intelligence is vital, so broadcasters must use web analytics to find “sites within the broadcast jurisdiction which have the highest volume of internet traffic in that geographic region.”

The systems, he goes on, “must be capable of real-time processing of hundreds of pirates” so that “evidence captured is included in DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)  infringement notifications”.

Watermarking is also gaining in popularity with broadcasters. Watermarking involves embedding an invisible unique mark on all content so that the source of any unauthorised broadcasting can be easily located. Watermarking, be it session based, which allows broadcasters to detect the smart card a pirate is operating from, or distributor based, which helps owners identify weak links in their distribution network, is an essential and cost effective part of any anti-piracy strategy.

The trouble is, of course, that pirate sites are constantly striving to stay one step ahead of the game using techniques such as OTT credential theft, use of apps and plugins such as “Kodi”, and online brand exploitation.

The battle is still raging – meanwhile, commentators must learn to distinguish between paying viewers and those pesky pirates, and stick to traditional gaffes like these!

%d bloggers like this: