True, a botanical metaphor about OTT piracy is unusual. But similarities can be drawn. In the housing market, the presence of Japanese knotweed can have a detrimental effect. If unchecked, online piracy is on track to do the same in the pay-media industry. What can be done to fight the weed?

What is Japanese knotweed?
Put simply, it’s a relentless plant that can grow 30cm a week. Its invasion can knock thousands off the value of your house; making buying, selling and financing a property a nightmare. The roots of the ornamental plant penetrate deep underground causing havoc to the structure of foundations, walls and drainage systems. While on the surface, its aggressive growth strangles all other plant life; threatening the ecosystem. Yet, to the untrained eye, the plant appears innocuous; with heart shaped leaves and clusters of cream flowers.

OTT piracy invasion
Just like the knotweed, IPTV/OTT piracy is growing at an alarming rate; threatening the pay-media ecosystem. What’s more, to a consumer’s untrained eye it’s hard to distinguish a pirate site from a legitimate one, as I explained in an earlier post .

Let me share some insights. From September 2015 to end February 2016, the Irdeto cyber-services team witnessed:

  • 50 new pirate IPTV/OTT supplier sites per month (on average)
  • 37% increase in these sites over 6 months
  • 500,000+ site visits per month
  • 24% growth in traffic to these sites over 6 months
  • USD15.13 average retail price for the subscription
  • 540,000 more adverts for pirate IPTV/OTT devices on the Top 10 e-Commerce platforms

Why the growth spurt?
With the advancements in technology and increasing broadband availability OTT services are more popular than ever. This not only benefits pay-TV operators and content providers but also online pirates. In addition, the ease of getting hold of insecure devices is fueling this growth. Although not illegal in their own right, the open nature of these devices makes it simple for the pirates to exploit. And here’s where the pirates differentiate themselves. For many consumers, their favorite programs are spread over different pay media operators. Pirate suppliers consolidate hundreds of pirated premium channels from multiple operators into a single package. It’s certainly a compelling alternative.

Fighting the weed
IPTV/OTT piracy is a growing, pandemic issue affecting all global pay-TV operators, content rights holders and consumers. It’s an industry wide problem. In my experience, the winning formula to fight online piracy requires a combination of:

  • State of the art forensic marking technologies which identify the source of pirated content and allow for its immediate shutdown.
  • Proactive enforcement and investigative services aimed at identifying and prosecuting the parties involved in large commercial streaming piracy networks.
  • Global partnerships with law enforcement, industry bodies and agencies as well as consumer and technology providers.

To prevent online piracy having a detrimental effect, the key is that we need to work as a team!