How pirates are evolving in a world obsessed with streaming

Today, the volume of content available online far outweighs the time most users have to watch it.

It isn’t just traditional broadcasters producing the entertainment, either: the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are all getting in on the action. In fact, over the course of 2018, Netflix plans to spend between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on original TV shows and movies.

The reason for this content boom is simple: audiences can’t get enough of it. A ‘box set’ culture, championed by more modern content providers, means viewers are constantly on the hunt for the next great TV show or movie to watch. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Netflix, users collectively watch 140 million hours of content per day, while research from Deloitte found nearly three-quarters of Americans have binge-watched a TV series at some point.

However, this combination of unlimited high-quality content and insatiable audience demand leaves a gaping vulnerability for piracy. If a viewer is a Netflix subscriber, but hears that a show they want to watch is on Amazon Prime, for example, they might choose to pirate it rather than sign up for an additional subscription service. The same thing might happen if a TV show is only available in a certain country or region.

We see two particularly disruptive methods of piracy that many brands and content providers struggle to grapple with. The first is IPTV piracy, where users pay a subscription – just like you would for Netflix or a similar service – but in return, they receive access to a service full of pirated content.

The second form of piracy leverages the popular Kodi media player. While the player itself is perfectly legitimate, its open source nature means people have created numerous software extensions that allow viewers to access and stream pirated content with relative ease. This, coupled with the fact that many of these add-ons are designed to look as slick as legitimate streaming services, can often make it tough to differentiate between users that are using Kodi legally, and those that are using it for more illicit means.

As piracy continually evolves, brands and content providers need to make sure their methods of tackling it keep up. Aside from focusing on watermarking and tightening up distribution models for early releases, it’s imperative that all companies leverage technological solutions to reduce the impact of piracy. Through various tools – including our own here at MarkMonitor – it can be much easier to differentiate legitimate content from pirated, and remain one step ahead of those looking to illegally share your content with the world.