By Simon Trudelle, Sr. Director Product Marketing, NAGRA
The market for streaming video in Latin America is soaring; revenues are expected to double in the next five years.
Unfortunately, the very technology that makes it so convenient to watch content also enables an entire parallel industry to pirate these services.
Using available industry hardware and software products, pirates intercept channels anywhere in the world and make them available over the internet, on any screen. From European football to local drama to blockbuster movies, Latin American consumers can have access to the best content at a fraction of the price.
In stealing signals, building their own servers and engaging subscribers with compelling offerings that look legitimate, pirates all over the continent are effectively and systematically monetizing pirated content.
Expanding on the current ecosystem during the last edition of the Pay-TV Innovation Forum, Luciano Ramos, VP Technology & Product at Liberty Latin America, commented:
“Piracy in our region, in some cases, is a bigger driver of cord-cutting than OTT services. Pirate organisations, some of which even have brick and mortar shops, are among the largest TV operators in certain countries in the region.”
The situation is compounded by the growing complexities of the technologies involved.
“The pay-TV industry has created a very complex ecosystem that needs to account for various content protection requirements, content licensing agreements, and other rules, resulting in a less than perfect user experience”, Ramos adds. “As a result, many consumers choose the often more user-friendly ‘click and play’ experience delivered by pirate services.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time content producers and distributors have faced challenges – DVDs and peer-to-peer sharing were once the dominant methods deployed by pirates. But there’s simply no comparison with today’s advanced piracy ecosystem – according to an article in the latest edition of Americas Quarterly, nearly a third of Latin American households with pay TV are getting their signal illegally.
And yet, many content owners have yet to fully appreciate the threat. As I suggested in the article, imagine setting up a shop, seeing people walk out with your goods without paying, and opting not to employ a security guard. This is essentially what many rights owners are allowing to happen right now in a connected world.
This problem concerns more than just content producers, right owners and large distributors – we often think of sports players, actors, musicians or shareholders that can certainly keep living well with less revenue. But piracy hurts anyone with even a passing interest in media and entertainment content as it destroys a whole sector of the legitimate economy, creating a downward spiral effect. By extension it negatively impacts governments that have a stake in delivering economic welfare to their citizens.
On that note, and as summarized in Americas Quarterly, some Latin American governments don’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. Pirate operations today are agile, elusive and internationally based; around 90 percent of Brazil’s pirated streams come from abroad.
Brazilian lawmakers are now looking for inspiration from successful campaigns run in other geographies, leveraging the work we have done with regional organizations and customers.
But even with these developments, the current situation may still be frustrating to many rights owners in the region. The truth is, rights holders must be more proactive in protecting their business model.
To start making real strides in the battle against piracy in the region – and indeed any region –rights owners must forge a closer partnership with all stakeholders (including network infrastructure providers, policymakers and governments) to communicate the long-term impact of piracy.
There also needs to be a collaborative effort across industry leaders, rights owners and government bodies to draft new legislation, finance anti-piracy summits, educate consumers and share model legislation and best practices.
As streaming piracy continues to heavily impact the global media and entertainment industry, the industry must start making smarter, more comprehensive moves to smartly distribute and protect content on any screen – as highlighted in one of our recent blogs.
Without the proper measures in place, pay-TV service providers and content owners risk experiencing their own damaging “music industry moment” – if they don’t act, the whole media and entertainment world could fall quickly and land hard.