Piracy And Premium Content -- Fighting an Upstream Battle?

We’ve all seen the headlines. The “Game of Thrones” season finale broke its own record yet again as the world’s most pirated show. Netflix is in an SEO battle with illegal streaming sites offering season three of “Orange Is The New Black.”

There’s Popcorn Time, The Pirate Bay and simple login sharing all providing a different means to one single end: obtaining premium content for free. Add to that Periscope and Meerkat and suddenly, the industry is faced with all sorts of questions when it comes to piracy and compelling live content.

The emergence of Periscope and Meerkat is the first major step forward in pirating live content in the digital age. While technology companies are making it easier to quickly identify and remove unlicensed content, and content owners will undoubtedly continue to use DMCA to keep the premium in premium content, I would argue that there’s another way to look at this situation.



Rather than stay on the defensive, and react to the Next Major Incident, the television industry ought to accept the challenge at hand, and work to answer this key question: How can we use these platforms to drive consumption and monetization, ultimately maintaining the value of high-caliber content?

Periscope and Meerkat have undeniably moved the live-stream evolutionary needle forward, providing immense value to the reporting of breaking news and history-making events. With nearly half of the adult population owning smartphones, they have effectively democratized broadcast power on a global scale and brought live-streaming overall into mainstream consumer consciousness.

With this increased awareness and unprecedented, first-hand access to live and current events, content owners have a new path to viewers. They can tap into these platforms to drive engagement, grow audiences and expand distribution overall by creating water-cooler moments that give fans a fresh look at their favorite programs.

Imagine if the cast of “Game of Thrones” broadcasted a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the Red (or Purple) Wedding on Periscope. Imagine if John Oliver broadcast breaking news segments in between episodes of “Last Week Tonight.

Taking that one step further, what if AMC extended its second-screen capabilities for “The Walking Dead” to include live, pre-show streams of “The Talking Dead,” while the current “Walking Dead” episode airs? What if viewers could catch a backstage broadcast from the red carpet or hottest after-party at the Academy Awards?

As it stands now, unauthorized broadcasts chip away at the value of content, ultimately threatening revenue. The obvious and right choice for the industry is to continue to make strides removing unlicensed streams of the content that they own.


At the same time, however, we need to embrace the new and added value that Periscope and Meerkat bring to a consumer’s viewing experience. This industry is undergoing a massive evolution, and if history is to inform the future, it’s time we lean into innovation while we maintain the upper hand.

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