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The Vicious Cycle of Geo-piracy: Beyond the Velodrome

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Despite record-breaking athletic performances at the Tokyo Olympics, many viewers were disappointed with the Olympic coverage. Broadcasters’ heavy reliance on ad breaks and sponsorships were one of the main complaints. Some audiences even had to endure ads appearing in the middle of an on-going competition.

For companies like Discovery and NBC, who have paid big dollars for the Olympic TV rights, the increased number of ads and sponsors were an effort to regain some of the money spent.

Cable subscriptions have already been in decline for some time. Currently, 40 percent of U.S. homes no longer subscribe to cable. This has been offset by the 11 million new subscriptions to OTT services such as Sling TV and Hulu Live. But there are still millions of viewers who relied solely on the internet for their Olympic coverage.

Too Many Ads, Too Little Sport

In the U.S., NBC designated its Peacock streaming service as the home of its Olympics coverage. But viewers were disappointed with the short, poorly edited highlights, the limited coverage of events without U.S. competitors, and a lack of coverage of minority sports – both live and on-demand.

Many of the frustrated viewers took their grievances to illegal streaming services and used a VPN to watch the Games in another region or country. Some users even installed a VPN on their smart TV to access broadcasts from overseas. They were attracted by the number of live sports offered, the reduced number of ads, and the perceived value of the subscription itself.

According to RingDigital, half of U.S. adults are now aware of VPNs and more than half of that group use one. Some users even installed a VPN on their smart TV to access broadcasts from overseas. This is significant because until very recently, most Americans had no knowledge or use for a VPN since they already had access to a wealth of content.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Geo-Piracy

These viewers may or may not be aware that using VPNs to watch territorially-restricted content is committing geo-piracy. Either way, for broadcasters, the end result is a vicious cycle. Fewer viewers means even more reliance on advertising and sponsorship or higher subscription rates to generate revenue or break even.

But the cycle of geo-piracy can be broken. Rights holders who block illegal viewers protect their high-value content and, as a direct result, their revenue streams. Leading broadcasters such as BBC and beIN Media already use our industry-standard VPN and proxy detection solution, GeoGuard, to combat geo-piracy and protect the value of their expensive content.

GeoGuard is already integrated with CDNs including Akamai and Amazon Cloudfront, making it very easy to deploy and an effective solution against VPNs and proxies. This means that broadcasters and OTTs can forgo their dependence on excessive brand and ad deals, and instead focus on what they do best – covering one of the greatest shows on earth.

Read our Sports Piracy Handbook to learn more about how to develop an effective digital content protection strategy: “Protecting High-Value Live Sports Content.” And as always, contact us at solutions@geocomply.com and we’d be happy to help.