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BeIN said they’d do it, then they did it – how piracy impacts the value of content

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4 minutes

BeIN’s refusal to pay an exclusivity premium for Seria A broadcast rights due to piracy shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Earlier this year, BeIN Media Group chief executive, Yousef Al-Obaidl, told the streaming video universe, that if rightsholders don’t do everything they can to protect their content from piracy, that he’s either not going to bid for those rights (i.e. Formula 1) or price them accordingly (Seria A).

BeIn said they’d do it, then they did it. And if you want to know the price of piracy, for Seria A, it’s around $200M dollars, which is the estimated amount that Seria A will be refunding to BeIN.

Just a little more background on the story, BeIN Sport is a Qatar-based sports network, and they recently classified Serie A’s football matches as non-exclusive content because of rampant piracy. The effects of this decision go beyond just this one sports league and will drastically impact all rightsholders, OTT broadcasters and the streaming media ecosystem as a whole.

“The worst thing for our whole industry is to have illegal competition, and by illegal competition, I mean piracy. It’s not fair competition,” said Yousef Al-Obaidly, CEO of BeIN. “When you have a fixed business based on the value of rights, it’s the worst. That money actually goes to criminals, and doesn’t go into the system, which affects the grassroots, jobs, and all of that.”

So, what just happened, and what can be done about it?

It’s what we’ve been warning about for years at GeoComply: if you don’t protect the territorial licensing of your content to ensure exclusivity, then prepare for the value of those rights to drop, and fast! In BeIN’s case against Serie A, BeIN argued that the league had not done enough to protect their exclusivity and hence all rights from Serie A will now be regarded as non-exclusive and treated accordingly.

The premium for territorial exclusivity is huge. And when users try to circumvent these geographical restrictions, the behavior is called geo-piracy or geolocation fraud. 

The easiest way for a user to do this is to utilize a VPN or DNS proxy to fake their IP to appear to be in one country, when they’re in another, in order to access territorially restricted content. This practice threatens the entire streaming media ecosystem. 

Rightsholders Can’t Afford to Ignore This

As we covered before, BeIN has already had to deal with rampant piracy. Last year, BeIN warned Formula One that their races were being pirated and that BeIN would no longer pay for it if the FIA didn’t do everything in their power to stop it. And guess what? They followed on the threat by not even bidding on F1 this year. With one less major competitor for broadcast rights, the value of the content drops. 

The consequences of BeIN’s decision to stop paying a premium for non-exclusivity because of easily-pirated content will reverberate throughout the entire industry. It’s real simple economics, if you don’t protect your content from piracy, its value will plummet. 

The lack of exclusivity caused by viewers bypassing territorial restrictions threatens a critical revenue stream for rightsholders like Serie A. GeoComply has been alerting rightsholders, OTT broadcasters and other stakeholders in the media streaming industry about the inevitability of this exact scenario for years.

Fortunately, there is a solution to geolocation fraud and geo-piracy. 

GeoComply’s proven VPN and DNS proxy detection technology can block users attempting to use a VPN or DNS Proxy to spoof their IP address in order to access premium streaming content from a territory where there are geographical restrictions in place. 

Our award-winning solutions are Hollywood Studio approved and are protecting studios, content creators, righsholders and OTT platforms around the world from geo-piracy and geolocation fraud. As geo-piracy surges worldwide, it’s essential that rightsholders and OTT broadcasters protect their content, not only to preserve the value of their content now, but to remain viable businesses into the future.

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