COMMENT: Beat sports hackers at password sharing game | New

Pandemic lockdowns have skyrocketed SVOD adoption, reaching 16.7 million UK homes by the end of 2020. This growth, however, has also coincided with an increase in illegal viewing. Identifying and defeating these hackers won’t have to be easy, but it is vital to protect income and reputation.

Despite the boom in legitimate users – with 89% of fans holding a pay-TV or OTT subscription – only 16% have never watched content through illegitimate sources. This clearly shows that appreciating the importance of watching legally does not always outweigh the appeal of free viewing.

This is especially true for the 31% of fans who take the hackers’ route when the services are not available locally.

“SVOD services lose more than £ 9.9 billion due to access to shared accounts.”

This alternation between legal and illegal consumption has a significant impact on income at several levels, especially since sports broadcasts are subject to strict regulations around the channels and authorized regions. So what can broadcasters do to reverse the impact of sports pirates?

While using the VPN [which gives you online privacy and anonymity] remains incredibly common – 41% of UK and US internet users use these tools at least once a week – password and account sharing is set to replace it at the top of the list of subscription services to address.

Netflix, for example, estimates that there are 5 million households in the UK alone who watch their content but don’t pay for it because they share a password with a friend or family. SVOD services are expected to lose over £ 9.9bn due to access to shared accounts.

While blocking general account sharing may seem like the obvious answer, chances are it will send real subscribers overboard, as well as those who break the rules. Imagine visiting a friend for the weekend and logging into your account to watch your favorite show, but forgetting to log out. Your friend continues to use your access after you leave and before you know it you cannot access your paid content because the service provider interpreted your access as switching between locations.

Instead, defenses should focus on keeping the doors open for paying users while filtering out biters by leveraging effective IP intelligence. One of those ways could be for vendors to use speed tracking to gauge overall account usage and establish a “master account,” if you will.

Not only does this prioritize the subscriber, but it also protects you from malicious activity such as residential IP addresses – a de facto IP black market, where hackers sell real IP addresses to be used by the user. without the owner’s knowledge.

“Unauthorized user detection technology has come a long way in recent years. “

Unauthorized user detection technology has come a long way in recent years, thanks in large part to smarter use of IP data. Advanced IP providers can locate individuals down to the zip code level without making them personally identifiable, opening up greater opportunities to distinguish between real and rogue viewers.

Constantly evaluating IP ingress and egress nodes can not only determine whether users are viewing specific content in trusted regions, but also discover suspicious anomalies, such as sessions starting and ending in different locations.

Additionally, evaluating speed and different connection methods can help reveal unusual patterns, including unfeasible changes in geographic location in short periods of time that may indicate more than one person is using a connection. account.

Another possible solution is to invest in methods of building profiles. This laudable effort will allow SVODs to determine which are the primary accounts and which are more likely to be the product of shared access. However, a certain degree of intelligence is required for this to work properly, which may require the involvement of a third party to properly implement, manage, and monitor the results.

“Only by accurately separating paid users from freeloaders can content providers beat hackers.”

By providing real-time reports on questionable access, these approaches empower sports broadcasters and distributors to make smart and informed decisions quickly. This may involve flagging potential hackers for further investigation or instantly blocking identified illegal users. Sports broadcasters in particular can benefit from such practices, as the increasing rights costs of the biggest leagues and associations mean that they have to protect their pennies more than most.

In an age when subscriber revenue is particularly critical, it’s critical that content defenses strike the right balance. Safeguarding broadcast and distribution success requires more nuanced protection and smart practices to precisely analyze how and where fans are accessing services. Only by accurately separating the most important paying users from the freeloaders can content providers beat hackers and end the evasion game.

Charlie Johnson is International Vice President at Digital Element, a global specialist in IP localization.

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