Growing piracy threat is contaminating live sport

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    Live sport is being “contaminated” by increasingly professional pirates who have learned to deliver a better user experience around their illegally acquired content to include rich EPGs, player and team statistics and social media links. They are also delivering content in high-definition, leaving legitimate service providers competing with their own content that is available for much less money or even free. And, partly because of the rapid growth in peer-to-peer sharing of live HD content, illegal viewing of major sports events is doubling every six months.

    These were the worrying trends outlined by Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, Senior Product Manager, Viaccess-Orca, last week, when he was speaking in the Videonet webcast ‘Keeping An Eye On Live Streaming Piracy’.

    “Piracy is becoming an increasing problem for operators, especially as the technology becomes easier and easier to run due to cheap broadband, high quality streaming video and the falling cost of uploading content to the web,” he explained. “What we have measured is that there are twice the number of illegal viewers every six months on major events.”

    The problem is especially acute for live sports, Bidard noted, and it is being fuelled by a rapid increase in the amount of peer-to-peer distribution of live pirated content. New and innovative P2P systems are now being implemented alongside the established mechanism for live streaming piracy where a legal viewer uploads content to an Internet server for further distribution via CDNs. Viaccess-Orca, which operates the Eye on Piracy security service to help content rights owners and operators monitor piracy and implement counter-measures to stop it, is particularly concerned at how the new P2P networks are encouraging more HD viewing of pirated content.

    Bidard said live sport is becoming contaminated. “With the peer-to-peer infrastructure, the pirate does not have to pay for the bandwidth and that enables HD quality, which really changes piracy because now pirates can compete with legal offers.”

    Bidard painted a worrying picture of increasingly sophisticated pirates who are learning to deliver a better consumer experience, leading to a rapidly growing threat if nothing is done to prevent them. The live webcast audience was certainly worried about live streaming piracy. In an audience poll nearly 48% of listeners rated Pay TV piracy as 5 out of 5 on a scale of how critical it is, with another 31% rating piracy as 4 out of 5 on the critical scale, while nearly 19% gave it 3 out of 5.

    Pierre-Alexandre Bidard was interviewed by Barry Flynn, Director at BFC, and provided a selection of slides and video demonstrations. The one hour webcast, including the presentation graphics, can be heard/viewed on-demand and is totally free (register here). Bidard outlines the piracy threat, how it can be understood and countered, and takes a look at governmental/regulatory attitudes to piracy as well.


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