Piracy challenge provides an opportunity that pays off

Simon Brydon

By Simon Brydon

Senior Director, Security – Sports, Media & Entertainment

Piracy challenge provides an opportunity that pays off

To beat the pirates first you need to understand them. This has been one of Synamedia’s mantras for success in combating piracy, understanding pirate technologies and pirate hacking methodologies in order to employ the latest technologies to protect our customers’ infrastructure. But as pirates have continued to grow and multiply, they are increasingly costing the industry billions of dollars in lost revenues. We recognised the need to analyse this growing industry-wide challenge through a different lens.  

Synamedia commissioned Ampere Analysis to carry out an important piece of research with media consumers in order to better understand exactly who uses legal and pirate services, what they watch, what they pay for and how they behave. And in a recent webinar, we discussed some of the study’s most interesting findings, which not only shed new light on the challenge, but also identified potential opportunities. 

Entertainment piracy is where the bigger money lies 

We discovered, for example, that piracy users of sports content are typically older and male, and hail from middle-to-higher income households. Not much of a surprise.  

We also learned that by stamping out piracy, the potential additional revenue from entertainment content for industry players is far greater than from sport.  

Most importantly, the findings revealed several points related to the behaviour of piracy consumers: 

  • Half of US entertainment piracy users would pay for legitimate services if illegal ones weren’t available. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of entertainment piracy consumers pay for such content. 
  • Households in most developed markets pay for over three legitimate SVOD services on average, and 91% of subscribers of five or more services top up their content with pirate services (blame rights fragmentation). The more “super content consumers” pay for legitimate services, the more they are likely to pay for pirated content.  

In other words, most piracy consumers have no problem paying for their content – be it from a legitimate or illegal source. Big surprise. In fact, the more legal OTT services that media consumers buy, the more they likely to also use pirated content. The biggest spenders on legal services are also the biggest pirate customers. 

Protect what your users are willing to pay for 

With these and many other findings under our belt, let’s take a look at what you can do. First and foremost, you need to protect your content and make it harder for pirates to steal it. No surprise. 

As mentioned earlier, the more you protect your content, the more piracy-induced lost revenue you can recoup: a whopping $10 billion in sport and $22 billion in entertainment/TV content in the seven countries covered in our study.  

Based on consumers interactions between illegal and legal services it is clear that the best protected content will attract more of the legal spend and therefore real investment in content protection and anti-piracy will pay dividends.   

There’s no quick and easy way to stop piracy, but OTT streaming services need to plug the holes in your entire delivery chain. And we’re here to help you. 

All piracy roads lead to super aggregation 

As always, where there are challenges, there are opportunities.  

The piracy problem is growing. Why? This trend is accelerating for several reasons: it gets easier to steal content, it gets easier for pirate services to aggregate content, in fact a super-aggregated illegal pirate service has an offering, quality and price point that no legal service could ever come close to rivalling. Our research showed that one third of Internet users are overwhelmed by the number of online services they can access. In the US, 57% of users expressed their desire for a unified content hub, while over 50% of users across the countries covered in the study – Brazil, Italy, India, Germany, Thailand, UK, US – want a single platform. Perhaps the global OTT world needs to work closer, not only on security, but also on a content strategy to fight back against super aggregated pirate services.  


The bottom line. If you missed our webinar, we invite you to check it out here, download our report, and set up a meeting with Synamedia experts to take advantage of this opportunity. 

About the Author

Simon Brydon has worked as a senior executive in the sports industry for 20 years both as a broadcaster and managing and selling media rights, most recently at Pitch International LLP.

From 2008 to 2014, Simon ran the media and digital business of Racing UK where he was responsible for managing and distributing the media rights for the UK’s top 34 racecourses.

In 2003 he created Cycling Television, the live OTT sports TV channel broadcasting the best professional cycling globally. With over 220 days of racing, Cycling TV was a pioneering business and became a world leader in this emerging sector.  In 2007 Simon sold the business to a Canadian media company.

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