Why world-class Telco operators choose NAGRA to secure their business (Part One): Identifying the challenges

These modern-day pirates have seemingly endless numbers of services to attack but why has the move to OTT streaming created such rich pickings for them?

The TV industry is continually facing disruption, especially as more OTT and D2C offerings are launched. This disruption has also created a haven for those intent on streaming illegal content. These modern-day pirates have seemingly endless numbers of services to attack but why has the move to OTT streaming created such rich pickings for them?

Unlike traditional pay-TV services that have one route between provider and end device – the set-top box – the new distribution landscape is a maze of devices and networks spread across the internet; much of which providers cannot control and are finding increasingly difficult to protect. This creates many different potential weak points that pirates can exploit, and we’re now seeing not just content being stolen but entire services, the most infamous case being beoutQ’s theft of beIN Sports’ service.

Consequently, service providers need to rethink their service protection strategies to ensure they’re fit for purpose, especially as more and more people are consuming streamed content.

We spoke to Tim Pearson, Senior Director, Product Marketing at NAGRA to find out how it is helping service providers to ensure they have a comprehensive service protection strategy in place that enables them to continue making investments in compelling content.

What are the main challenges for service providers who want to launch or expand their streaming services?

While many traditional pay-TV operators have and understand CAS systems, in part because they can see and control the endpoint device, the growth of OTT and D2C has disrupted many elements of the TV industry, including how it fights piracy. This landscape evolution has brought with it an exponential set of challenges and threats largely due to the increased surface area that operators delivering streaming services have to navigate to deliver their content. These factors make it significantly harder to track and stop pirates from stealing content, and potentially the entire service.

Many providers currently assume that they will be safe if they stick with their existing DRM solutions – and there’s no disputing that such technologies do indeed protect the content, but it’s the passage of that content across the network that now means that the wider service needs additional protection as the maze through which it travels has pirates lying in wait.

What is the implication for the Operator’s business?

This problem gets greater as the service scales, with new threats constantly arising. While some of the largest Tier 1 providers could invest in large scale service protection strategies straight away, it may not be at the top of Tier 2 operators and D2C providers’ investment lists.

However, investments made incrementally in direct response to risks identified by an operator makes for a pragmatic rebuttal of illicit consumer behaviour. Looking at these challenges from a business perspective, operators are also starting to become increasingly cognisant of patterns of consumer behaviour – such as where account activity shows a sudden and sustained spike in consumption from multiple devices and locations. This may be a potential warning sign that increased levels of service or content piracy are being evidenced; requiring an increasingly forensic analysis of consumer behaviour patterns – particularly in the current pandemic situation – meaning there is a clear need to ensure that services remain secure and any patterns of pirate behaviour are acted upon to ensure such behaviour isn’t continued beyond the end of the lockdown.

How is NAGRA helping service providers to overcome these challenges?

The first step is to create an OTT streaming service protection strategy that captures the types of devices to be secured, the threats expected together with their mitigative actions, a data source for business decisioning and a legal framework through which to take corrective action.

To then support the strategy and to help service providers of all scales combat the piracy threat, NAGRA has created a toolset called Active Streaming Protection. It is designed to give service providers the tools they need to solve their specific business problems. Taking multi-DRM as a baseline, operators can then add additional tools and capabilities as they scale their service – meaning that there are no costly upfront investments in solutions that won’t be fully realised until a later date.

Stay tuned for the second instalment in this interview, where Tim discusses some of tools available to operators within Active Streaming Protection and examples of where solutions have been deployed.

Contact us to find out how NAGRA’s Active Streaming Protection can help you protect your service.