Streaming the World Cup: Preventing Piracy on the Global Playing Field

World Cup tablet



Did you know that every day, consumers around the globe watch their favorite TV shows and movies via illegal streams that they found while searching for them on the Internet — and they don’t even know they’re pirating content?

Today’s consumers expect to automatically have access to sports and live events on every screen, anywhere they go. When they can’t find what they’re looking for, they often end up accessing it through an illegal stream — resulting in two types of pirate activity, which we refer to as “frustrated consumers” and “confused consumers.” The frustrated consumers will often intentionally pirate content because they can’t legally access what they are looking for. Confused consumers are apt to fall upon illegal streams accidentally while searching the Web for the content they want to watch.

With the 2014 World Cup kicking off today, there is significant opportunity to engage fútbol aficionados by putting access to the games in their hands — both literally and figuratively. This year, Univision’s Spanish-language coverage is disrupting the sports streaming model by eliminating all barriers and providing live, around-the-clock coverage for 56 matches on multiple screens, including TV, online and several mobile platforms, including Unimás and Univision Deportes.

During 2010’s World Cup, Univision reached more than 32 million viewers, and that number is expected to grow across all platforms this year. We are focused on broadcasting the games to as many viewers as possible and on as many platforms as possible. As new products and providers emerge every day, live-streaming piracy is on the rise and is a challenge that requires serious attention — yet it also represents a significant opportunity to learn from business intelligence and to deliver on unmet consumer demand. Here, we explore three key steps to help content owners and distributors disrupt piracy, reengage consumers and uncover business intelligence from piracy.

The hat trick: Defending the net, opening up the field for fans and predicting your next move

1. Good defense: Disrupting piracy and protecting your rights isn’t just about setting up barriers and thinking, “My content is secure now.” It’s important to address security as a three-step approach: Discover the places that usually post pirated content (linking sites, piracy ads and social media) and protect from piracy on those channels. During the event, track for illegal streams and take them down in real time. And after the event, analyze results. OTT platforms have become increasingly targeted for pirate redistribution, and new watermarking technologies for OTT are on the horizon that could significantly improve anti-piracy efforts.

2. Reengage your fans: Give them the stadium experience anywhere and everywhere. People of all ages watch the World Cup. When determining how to distribute it for the best consumer experience, it’s critical to understand that people will be watching on their favorite devices: A recent report from Sporting News Media, Kantar Media Sports and SportBusiness Group revealed that approximately two-thirds of U.S. sports fans follow sports online — via computer, smartphone, tablet or another mobile device. Therefore, the goal needs to be to deliver the games on every device possible, so that it’s easy to access the games through Univision’s properties.

More of Univision’s Web traffic comes through apps and mobile browsing than it does through our website — so we are not only preparing for the games through delivery to several platforms, but we’re also adding engagement levels by providing customizable apps. This year, we’re treating the U.S. and Mexican national teams equally from a coverage perspective because we know our viewers love both teams.

3. Use data to predict the next move and come up with a better game plan: This step is possibly the most important, because content owners and distributors can’t move ahead unless they know what pirate activity happened during a broadcast. Analyzing the data gained from the trends and knowledge identified with watermarking technology can help an organization identify holes, but more importantly, it helps to understand who the audience is and what they’re interested in.

After an event, take a look at where illegal activity occurred, and then figure out why — was the content not available on certain platforms? Was it difficult to find or access? What motivated pirate activity? Only when you take this approach can you truly learn from your data and make smarter decisions about where and how you distribute content.

Broadcasters: It’s up to you to be the man of the match

Millions of people will watch the World Cup across Univision platforms, including the Univision Network, UniMás, Univision Deportes Network and Univision Deportes offerings such as the website and apps. Both Univision and Irdeto know that the primary goal is to distribute every match to as many screens as possible, so that viewers can be part of the action no matter where they are or what screen they’re watching on.

But we also need to make sure that those matches are watched legally, and if not, that the piracy is managed appropriately so that a broadcaster’s rights are protected. Live sports streaming is a tremendous opportunity. Taking the right steps to protect your rights and revenue while providing the best experience possible to consumers not only captures new audiences, but helps broadcasters to evolve and innovate. The journey of live sports streaming must include the continuous exploration and development of security and anti-piracy technologies like watermarking. This type of proactive behavior is crucial for broadcasters to be well poised for the future and to become smarter about consumer demand.

As vice president, Rights Management & Content Protection at Univision, Eddy Vivas ensures that all content, whether produced in-house or acquired, is properly cleared and protected for exploitation on all platforms. Reach him @Univision. Paul Ragland is vice president, North America at Irdeto; he specializes in strategies and technology that shape the evolution of broadband and broadcast entertainment models. Reach him @Irdeto.