Written by: Rakesh Ranjan
Piracy or illegal distribution of videos is arguably the greatest threat for OTT industry, both in terms of economy and sustainability. As per the recent OTT streaming revenue insights, video piracy is expected to hit $9.1 billion of revenue in 2019 alone. And the loss is set to grow by 38% to 12.5 billion US dollars by 2022.
Well, this is not good at all. OTT companies work hard and invest a lot of time and resources in producing & distributing content. But with this increasing video piracy trend, all their efforts are simply going in vain, which ultimately concerns their sustainability in today’s competitive OTT business.
If you are a video streaming service provider/content creator and struggling with such illegal video distribution issues, it’s high time, you should plan & implement proven anti-piracy strategies to save your online video business in the long run.
Don’t worry, no need to hire a legal consultant or a rights management agency. Dealing with OTT video piracy is not that complicated and expensive as you think. With a little critical thinking, convincing skills and some advanced security integrations, you can easily reduce the impacts of piracy and ensure a secure streaming ecosystem.
Understanding the roots of Video Piracy in OTT Space
Before you start implementing different preventive strategies, it’s very important to analyze the primary reasons that are triggering OTT video piracy.
1. Increasing Demand –
Why OTT consumers are demanding pirated content in high numbers?
- Free content culture –
Since a majority of online viewers i.e. millennials grew up with free content culture (go online and stream video for free), they simply don’t prefer paying up for watching media on the internet. They believe, by giving a few personal information like email, mobile number, Facebook login, etc, they can access any video they come across online.
Well, in simple words, today’s OTT audience is just addicted to free streaming habit, which is why they often turn to pirated content when they don’t find free video streaming services online.
- Budget constraints –
OTT consumers are open to signing up for multiple video streaming services as they love to stream exclusive and fresh content all the time. But for every month they do have a certain spending threshold.
When they realize subscribing to multiple OTT services in a single month can be too costly, they often prefer resorting to pirate practices and get access to the videos which they wanted to watch online.
- Account Sharing –
You might be thinking, how sharing the same video streaming account is related to piracy, right? Well, let me clarify you that, in any way if users access an exclusive premium video without paying it’s actual streaming fee, its considered under OTT video piracy.
A recent study confirmed that causal account sharing with friends and relatives contribute a 19% share of the total piracy loss worldwide.
2. Abundant Supply –
With demands increasing for pirated content, supply is plentily available both online and offline.
- Illegal video streaming sites –
Users who are desperately willing to watch their favorite online web series or latest movies for free, often browse illegal streaming sites because of instant content availability and their huge video library. Such websites or applications break the exclusive content silos available on popular platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, etc, and make the videos accessible across numerous devices ranging from smart TVs, mobile phones, digital media players and video game consoles.
For example – Torrent search engines like isoHunt and Pirate Bay have amassed a wide portfolio of content pirated from Netflix and are then serving to approximately 59 million pirates online. Like these, there are many illegal video streaming sites that are continuously contributing to OTT video piracy, every single day.
- Illicit Streaming Devices (ISDs) –
ISDs are very popular in south-east Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and India. These devices are very similar to set-top boxes and come with preloaded streaming channels and content. Anyone can buy these illegal devices from the local electronic hubs or can even order them online through e-commerce stores.
Because of their slick UX and a little subscription fees, these devices often confuse OTT users of legitimate streaming service, and hence trigger the impacts of OTT video piracy in bulk.
The above is all about the demand and supply side of video piracy in OTT space. Hope, you have got an overall idea about how piracy is increasing rapidly and affecting the OTT revenue worldwide.
Now, let’s move further and learn the proven anti-piracy strategies for a sustainable and secure streaming ecosystem.
How to beat OTT Video Piracy?
Follow the AVoD trend –
Since there is a high demand for free content in the OTT world, it’s wise to offer ad-based streaming services at zero cost to subscribers. Audiences have no problem in streaming a few ads, when they sign up for free video streaming services. Hence, following the AVoD trend will greatly reduce the demand for pirated content as the content are already available for free.
Free-trial based subscription package –
If you want to try out with a subscription-based streaming model, we suggest you to give an initial free trial offer to your subscribers, similar to Netflix. Many times, video enthusiasts just want to watch a particular series or movies, nothing extra. With a free trial, they can watch their favorite content and will not turn up to those illegal streaming websites.
Content-based pricing –
We personally feel a content-based pricing model is the best way to tackle OTT video piracy. Imagine, in your streaming store every video has a fixed price, and users can directly access their desired content by paying that particular price only. Instead of paying for a whole month subscription, they can simply pay for one show, and once that show is over, they don’t have to pay anymore. This strategy can effectively reduce the stress of monthly budget constraints of OTT users and restrict them from taking the piracy path.
Advanced DRM with forensic watermarking –
When it’s about the security of your online videos, do not go with those cheap DRM integrations. Instead, invest your money in advanced DRM technologies that come with forensic watermarking feature and high-level video encryption. This will fend off any and all attempts of hackers or pirates to access your video streams. At Muvi, we support popular DRM services such as Playready, Widevine and many more.
Reverse functioning of recommendation engine –
We all know what a recommendation engine does – recommends relevant content to subscribers as per their taste & preferences. Now, if you will just reverse the functioning of your recommendation engine like – instead of recommending, ask users which type of videos they want to stream or what are their favorite titles and genres, you can better understand the video requirements of your subscribers.
Then list down the exclusive content your audience wants to watch and accordingly organize your video library. Remember, when you offer videos that your audience is demanding, there is no way they will go out for pirated content.
Download option for offline viewing –
Online video streaming is only possible when there is good internet connectivity. But what about streaming on vacations, flights, trains, and other places where internet connectivity is not that strong. Will the subscribers stop their on-the-go streaming habits?
No way! In order to ensure hassle-free viewing of their favorite content, video enthusiasts often opt for pirated versions of content and store them in their desired devices for offline viewing.
However, by offering a download option in your streaming app or website, you can allow subscribers to stream their desired videos offline legally, whenever and wherever they want without worrying about the internet speed. Many of our customers have enabled Download-as-a-Feature and have successfully restricted the piracy of their exclusive content.
Educate your audience: Piracy is wrong –
Many OTT users don’t know that they are involved in piracy. And this way, they continue doing activities like password sharing, offline distribution of licensed videos, and downloading from illegal streaming websites.
But with a bit of small advice, you can educate your subscribers about piracy and make them realize that piracy is wrong. We recommend to start an awareness campaign against piracy and ask your users to support the good cause.
By giving consumers access to the content they want, on the devices they want to watch it on, legally and at a decent price, is the best way to reduce the impacts of OTT video piracy. Do thorough research on audience’s behavior and implement the above proven anti-piracy for ensuring a safe & secure streaming environment.
If you need any professional help to tackle the piracy-related issues, you can always communicate with our OTT experts here.