Global piracy rampant with OTT credentials offered on dark web: study

New research from Dutch digital platform security firm Irdeto shows hundreds of stolen login details for popular over-the-top services are available on the dark web for an average of just US$8.81, potentially putting consumers at risk and impacting OTT revenues.

Via dark web marketplaces, a variety of products, accounts and services can be bought, including account credentials for a range of pay TV and Video on Demand (VOD) OTT services. “This means that legitimate subscribers could have had their accounts compromised and used illegally for a small one-off fee,” said Irdeto.

Its Global Consumer Piracy Threat Report looks at pay TV credential availability on the dark web, global piracy hotspots and the market in illicit streaming devices (ISD’s). Key findings included

· Widespread availability of stolen OTT credentials – In one month (April 2018), Irdeto discovered 854 listings of OTT credentials from 69 unique sellers across more than 15 dark web marketplaces. These credentials were from 42 different OTT services including Netflix, HBO, DirecTV and Hulu.

· Live streaming piracy is a global problem – Irdeto’s web analytics partner found an average of 74 million total global visits per month (and an average of 21 million unique visits per month) to the top ten live streaming sites in Q1 2018. Most traffic came from the US (2,934,000 average monthly unique visits), the UK (1,714,000 average monthly unique visits) and Germany (1,519,000 average monthly unique visits)

· Ads for “fully-loaded” boxes continue to spring up – Pirates are using popular ecommerce sites to advertise ISD’s, which are often advertised around major sporting events. For example, Irdeto identified 180 advertisements for ISD’s offering Joshua vs. Parker on e-commerce websites, including eBay and Gumtree in just one day in the week leading up to the fight. So far in 2018, Irdeto has worked to take down almost 7,000 adverts for ISDs across 60 domains.

· India among the top five countries for P2P downloads – Irdeto tracked more than 800 million monthly downloads between January 2017 and May 2018 through its P2P Business Intelligence tracker. India is among the top five countries, with 965 million P2P downloads tracked during the monitoring period.

Not just in India, P2P piracy is still dominant for movies and TV around the world, according to Irdeto’s whitepaper study on the current piracy landscape. The research finds that the growth in web video piracy is only adding to the global piracy problem, rather than replacing P2P piracy. while the increase in bandwidth and social media has facilitated growth in content redistribution piracy, particularly around live sporting events, it is clear that other forms of piracy are not going away any time soon.

Other findings from the whitepaper included :

· P2P remains an important piracy platform while web video is adding to overall piracy.

In 2017, P2P trends in seven of the eight countries investigated are constant or increasing indicating that while web video is growing P2P piracy has not declined. Committed pirates, who prefer piracy to the wide range of legal services being offered, prefer P2P as their platform for accessing content.

o The users most likely to pirate via web video are casual pirates – i.e., they visit legal sites too.

· The P2P network plays a central role in distributing infringing content to the online piracy ecosystem.

o The high-quality video content in greatest demand on piracy sites is first released on the P2P network.

o Web video sites source a significant proportion (28%) of the high-quality content they offer from P2P sites.

World Cup likely last hurrah for traditional broadcasters: Ooyala

This year’s Soccer World Cup – which sees an estimated 3.4 billion people tune in for the live final – could well be the last hurrah for traditional broadcasters in the face of growing pressures from OTT streaming services, according to Ooyala.

The online video analytics and monetization specialist – an independent Telstra subsidiary –  noted that while online streaming via mobile phones and tablets had soared in popularity amongst the millennial segment, football’s World Cup seemed to be clinging on as a rare standout event where viewers will still choose to switch on the TV.

“How we tune-in has changed considerably since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and users have become much more critical of what it is their services have to offer,” said Ooyala principal industry analyst Jim O’Neil.  “While live, linear OTT viewing is expected to surpass traditional broadcast TV viewing… viewers still [regard] the television experience for big sporting events as sacred.”

“Consumer frustration – particularly with the number of streaming services available to viewers – is driving improvements in the overall OTT experience: from streamlined authentication, to better content curation, personalisation, and easier search and discovery,” O’Neil continued, flagging that near-instant start-up, consistent video stream quality and uninterrupted delivery without buffering will be critical to end-user experience and to keeping audiences engaged during events like the World Cup.

“The ‘Millennial Flu’ means that most people already struggle to watch content for hours at a time so, while the television remains a popular choice, they should expect their customers to watch alternative content online simultaneously if they fail on any of those ‘Quality of Experience’ factors,” he added.

Ooyala said that while OTT providers continue to pioneer the media industry on new technologies, they must accept that they still account for just a fraction of today’s audience engagement when it comes to this year’s World Cup.

“With highlights from earlier games available on YouTube, and commentary from friends available on social media, overall participation via a number of devices will undoubtedly be greater than ever before, but – for now – the television has solidified its place amongst millennial audiences when it comes to football,” the firm said.