For the first time, searches for popular insecure OTT devices have now outstripped popular secure OTT devices on Google searches. Online piracy is big business. All content is a target: thematic channels, recent movie releases and particularly live sports. The question is can anything be done to hold back this tide?

Perfect storm
With advancements in technology, increasing broadband availability and speed plus secure silicon effectively stamping out control word sharing piracy; the pirates have adapted. OTT piracy, aka content redistribution, is now the biggest threat facing pay-TV operators and content rights holders.

OTT piracy only requires broadband internet access for content delivery. As little as 2-3mbps is sufficient to access hundreds of pirated pay TV channels and movies from almost everywhere in the world in HD or near HD quality. It’s a global problem. This combined with the ease, simplicity and low cost nature of pirate OTT devices means that we’re facing a wave of piracy bigger than we’ve ever seen before.

Businessmen or criminals?
No doubt about it. Pirates are criminals. Yet their business acumen and effective marketing can lead unsuspecting users to choose an illegal service. How is that possible? Let me share some of our findings with you.

Many pirate OTT services have a professional looking website. They offer a ‘plug & play’ philosophy with support and money-back guarantees. Pirate subscription packages are bundled to appeal to specific markets; e.g. expats and ethnic groups. The cost of the service ranges from USD 300-1,100 p.a. –significantly cheaper than pay-TV operators. Mainstream payment mechanisms are available, e.g. Visa/Mastercard, PayPal, Western Union or even bank transfer. As the pirate service amalgamates pay-TV channels and movie libraries there is often far more content included than standard pay TV subscriptions. We regularly see pirate OTT services with 350+ premium channels. One US service offers 1057 recent release movie titles. All catalogs are updated frequently. And for those in the commercial world, such as Pubs and Bars, specific sports packages are available. Plus, for a few extra dollars a month, legal aid and advice is included. It’s not hard to see why users are tempted.

Act now to turn the tide
OTT piracy does not discriminate. Pay-TV operators are facing potential subscriber churn to cheaper illegal services. For content rights holders this is an emerging threat affecting loss of revenue as these alternative sources are diluting the value of the content. Pirates are resilient, well-funded criminals with a complex supply chain often spreading across different countries. If you do nothing there is a risk that your business will be gone.

The good news is that many providers have realized that fighting online piracy requires more than just technology alone. A suite of services is essential to combat new and emerging piracy threats, particularly for OTT piracy. Being able to detect, analyze, investigate and counter all types of piracy affecting on-demand and live real-time content is more essential than ever.