As we have seen countless times in the past, consumer demand for live sports is at an all-time high. This content makes it both a key differentiator for pay TV operators and a cornerstone for pirates. These illegal service providers offer thousands of sites providing illegal live sports content attracting millions of viewers. In addition, the eagerness of consumers to watch live sports content means that they not only require, but expect an optimal viewing experience.

The Mayweather vs. McGregor match proved that two fights are still underway: the battle against piracy and the battle for pay-TV operators to provide a seamless and secure experience to consumers.

The Fight Against Piracy Is Going Multiple Rounds

Consumer demand was evident during the Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing match where approximately 2,930,598 viewers tuned into 239 illegal streams of the fight across both traditional pirate streaming websites and social media channels. As highlighted in an earlier post, pirates have become more business savvy, investing in product marketing and advertising of illegal services. In just one day in the week leading up to the bout, Irdeto identified 42 advertisements for illicit streaming devices offering Mayweather vs. McGregor on e-commerce websites, including Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.

The fight against dropped streams

While consumers were eager to see the money fight, it’s safe to say that not everyone tuning in had a positive viewing experience. Many streams were dropped during the broadcast and others did not provide the HD quality that consumers expect. Understandably, this resulted in angry consumers and even sparked a class-action lawsuit against Showtime. One cited that Showtime rushed the streaming service to viewers and did so without securing the bandwidth it needed to sufficiently stream the fight.

This is a huge issue as consumers were paying high prices (up to $99.95 in the US) to watch the fight. No matter what the price, consumers expect a flawless broadcast. Next time consumers may not be as willing to pay the premium price for what they assume will be another poor experience and seek out a pirate option instead.

Delivering a knockout experience

Going up against these two foes takes one common focus – the user experience. Operators need to place an emphasis on securely delivering content without impacting the user experience. To do so requires specialized security, resilient DRM and cloud-based services that allows operators to deliver across multiple devices and scale quickly to prevent outages. It is also important to apply security in a measured way without impacting the quality of the broadcast.

Equally important is disrupting the pirate experience so consumers are encouraged to revert to legal sources. To do so, operators must have 24*7 monitoring combined with robust watermarking capable of tracing piracy back to its source to quickly shut down pirate streams.

By building a robust security system that doesn’t fail and by quickly taking down pirate streams of live sports content, operators are able to appeal to consumer demand and disrupt pirate’s business model, giving consumers a knockout experience.