Broadcast Beat Magazine 2018 NAB Show Edition - Page 58

All of this can quickly be under- mined by online pirates, illegal- ly redistributing programs and live streams. So, content own- ers must take steps to protect their programming – some- thing that can now be easily done with forensic watermark- ing. They are now potentially missing out on millions in fees or advertising revenue. The most popular show in HBO history – Game of Thrones (GoT) – acts as the perfect example of where pirates can take advantage. The show’s season seven premiere was pirated more than 90 million times - six times the number of the 16 million views via legal channels. That’s a lot of subscription fees that HBO missed out on – something that pirates are only able to achieve because of the internet. This on-demand piracy is a result of the shifted audience expectation. Today consumers only tend to watch specific TV live. A few years back, if you missed a program, there was no catching up. But now it’s so easy to watch whatever we want, when and wherever we please and if on-demand content isn’t available easily and cheaply, con- sumers are quick to find a version they can watch illegally online or one they can find to download and watch at their leisure. Illegal streaming of live events however, is the area which for some reason, seems to come with more malice - perhaps because the stakes are higher. The cost of rights for live sports quickly dwarf those of production. And this is only increasing as new kinds of online-only stakeholders are putting up the cash for a piece of the action. Before the 2017-2018 NFL season, Amazon paid 50 million USD for the online distribution rights for Thursday Night Football, a property which features just 11 games of a season that’s made up of 256 games. 58 • Broadcast Beat Magazine • More video content than ever is being delivered using a CDN but the best way to protect against pirates is by using one built specifically for TV. Within a dedicated TV CDN, content distributors are then able to deploy a forensic watermarking solution which lets them track con- tent wherever it’s delivered. A pixel-based code is integrated into the program’s image and is unique to every single viewer. This means that as soon as a pirated stream or piece of content appears online, the owner can track exactly who accessed and illegally redistributed the program. There are other options available to watermark content – like delivering content made up of two different versions of each three-second section of a program. While this will tell you where a pro- gram was leaked, it’s easily duped because you have to wait for the entire program to completely download or finish streaming before deciphering the code. On the other hand, a bit-stream based solution means you can identify the culprit within around 15 seconds of the content appearing on an unso- licited site or platform. Forensic watermarking like this plays an impor- tant role in the fight against digital pirates which is an increasingly important battle given the con- tinued rise in the price of rights and program pro- duction. A watermarking solution of this kind lets users track down anyone who illegally streams or copies their valuable content, putting the power back in the hands of the broadcasters and con- tent owners.