How Does Forensic Watermarking Help in Live Streaming Piracy?

From encryption, tokenization, to introducing analogue interferences, OTT and live content streaming platforms use several methods for securing their live content. But illegal streaming and piracy continue to result in losses worth billions of dollars every year. Check out this post to know how watermarking techniques are helping such platforms.

As per a report by the Sport Industry Group, more than 50% of the millennials watch live sports through illegal streaming. While the live content streaming television channels and online platforms have been using several methods like encryption and tokenization for securing their content, illegal streaming of live content continues to rise.

This is because all of these methods help in ensuring that only paid users can access the stream. But once a paid user has access to the stream, copying and sharing the content is not much of a hassle. There are now hundreds of audio and screen capturing solutions available that can be used for illegally recording and sharing live content.

This is the reason why an increasing number of OTT platforms now make use of digital watermarking techniques. Let us have a detailed look at what it is and how it works. 

What is Digital Watermarking in Live Content Streaming?

While there are now security solutions that can help platform and content owners to know if their content is being streamed illegally, it is impossible for them to track the exact source from where the streaming is being done. Digital watermarking techniques are now working as the missing piece of the online piracy puzzle. 

With the help of watermarking, content owners can track the exact source of leak or piracy and take actions to shut down the same and even initiate legal proceedings. In the case of live content, a unique signal or mark is added to every stream. This unique signal helps the platform owners track the source from where the live content is being illegally streamed.  

Increasing Popularity of Digital Watermarking

In 2018, the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) released a technical document on implementing digital watermarks for streaming media. The document outlines the benefits of watermarking and also includes all the technical information a content platform might require for applying digital watermarks. 

This, in itself, shows the rising popularity of watermarking techniques among online content platforms. While watermarking is only a passive security solution and in no way the only content security solution that you will need for your live content, it does play a very crucial role in helping platform owners track the exact location of leaks and illegal streaming.

Types of Digital Watermarking Used for Live Streaming

As compared to VOD (Video-on-Demand), adding a watermark on live stream is known to be more challenging as latency becomes a major issue with live content. This has made visual watermarking, forensic watermarking, A/B watermarking, and bitstream-based watermarking very popular among streaming platforms. 

All the different types of forensic watermarking work differently and have their own benefits and drawbacks. However, as compared to visible watermarks, invisible watermarks are a preferred option. In fact, there are now cloud-based watermarking service providers that add invisible watermark to your live streams in real-time to help you track and detect illegal streaming.  

Future of Digital Watermarking

As per a report by Digital TV Research, the cost of online piracy will surpass $50 billion by 2022. While piracy-prevention tools and technologies have been around for a very long time, most of it has failed in delivering any considerable results on a long-term basis. 

But when combined with an extensive security solution like DRM, watermarking has what it takes to be a lasting saviour for the entertainment industry. Moreover, with the availability of cloud-based watermarking services, it is now easier and more affordable for content platforms to adapt to the technology for securing their content. 

Going forward, it is not difficult to assume that such services will only get more popular as online platforms are now turning into the preferred source of entertainment for masses all over the world.