Streaming media companies want to make a lot of money. To do that, they need to protect their money-making stuff from content theft threats. As these companies try to make more money, they shouldn’t forget about keeping their money safe. This helps them in many ways, like keeping customers, stopping piracy, and making sure their deals are good.

In simple words, it’s like keeping your valuable digital things safe. But, the teams inside these companies are not always ready for this big job. Sometimes, only one team or even just one person is in charge of keeping all the money safe for the whole world. That’s not good in a super competitive market.

Let’s look at the big problems of keeping money safe for streaming media all over the world. We want to see where the money is going away from these companies.

Challenge #1: Licensing

The way streaming services used to start, where they focused on getting customers without worrying much about costs, is no longer the norm. Nowadays, due to media mergers, labor issues, and economic challenges, streaming brands need to start making money sooner.

For example, Warner Bros. Discovery made a lot of money by licensing its content this year. Amazon also plans to do the same by sharing its original shows on other platforms, and Disney is thinking about it too. This is a change from their earlier strategy, where they kept their content only on their own platform. But now, they are willing to do this if it means making a profit.

To make sure they follow the rules in their licensing agreements in different places, media companies use content protection testing.

  • geographical restrictions
  • defined license time period/expired content removal
  • defined seasons/episodes/sequels availability
  • content portability
  • licensing for live-streaming events
  • video resolution
  • available languages

Many content protection teams are based in particular places, like the east coast, west coast, or the UK. This can be a problem when they need to make sure that everyone is following the rules from their license agreements all over the world, even in places like southeast Asia. It’s even tougher for media companies that only work in their own areas. Sometimes, their own testers try to use VPNs, but these don’t always work well for checking how content is being used. So, they end up having to trust the companies they gave licenses to and do occasional checks. This isn’t a good way to make sure everything goes smoothly.

When media providers want to team up with strong brands or reach a global audience, they need to do their homework. This means they have to make sure they can make money from their creative work and also keep it safe.

Challenge #2: Usage rules

While subscribers may not have been happy about Netflix cracking down on password-sharing, the strategy was effective. According to Antenna, Netflix saw a surge in new customer sign-ups after making this announcement, surpassing the previous high numbers seen during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.

Although enforcing these rules may not be popular with customers, it brings them back to premium media brands. This puts extra pressure on companies to provide the right access to their subscribers. This includes things like allowing multiple logins, setting limits on device usage, managing content downloads or transfers, and more.

Since customers are always finding new ways to bend the rules, businesses need to keep an eye on how people use their service. Testing teams can easily get overwhelmed trying to figure out and replicate these tricky situations. And if these measures are not implemented correctly, it can make customers frustrated, which is not good.

With the help of a crowdtesting provider like Applause, testing teams can use real user accounts to check if the business’s usage restrictions are working as intended. For instance, the team can hire users who are part of a family plan to test things like 4K video playback with multiple devices running at the same time, even when they are traveling far from their home location. This helps ensure that any unusual activity is detected and handled correctly.

It’s important to note that many media providers now offer cheaper subscriptions with ads. This adds another aspect for testing. Teams need to make sure that each customer gets the right level of service they signed up for, both at the beginning and in the future.

Challenge #3: Territorial enforcement

Threats to Streaming Content Protection
Territorial enforcement: Threat to Streaming Content Protection

Different geographic markets pose unique challenges when it comes to getting and keeping users on streaming platforms. However, before dealing with in-market registrations, streaming platforms must follow the digital rights agreements and rules specific to each region.

Each market has its own rules about what content can be shown and where it can be accessed, like the EU regulations that say if a movie is available in one EU country, it should be available in others too.

Another thing to think about is how to handle geographic restrictions. Sometimes streaming services block content in certain places using geofiltering. But customers may try to get around these rules by using a VPN, which creates an extra challenge for the teams in charge. VPN services keep changing their IP addresses, making it tough for internal testing teams to make sure their VPN detection tools work correctly. These teams might try creative methods, like connecting to a server in the target region to test VPNs, but these methods don’t always replicate real-life situations accurately. The best way to do that is with real-world tests in the actual market.

Checking payment methods used in each market is also important to make sure payments go smoothly. Different regions have their own currencies and preferred payment methods. Services often want to limit accounts made outside their home region. For example, if someone from Italy makes an account while in the United States with an Italian credit card, they should only have access to content available in Italy, with extra restrictions when roaming. A testing plan for content protection should make sure payments are easy and that the right rules are in place for usage.

Challenge #4: Piracy

Piracy has been a challenge in the media industry for a long time, and it has found its way into the streaming media world. According to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NERA Economic Consulting, digital piracy on a global scale causes the U.S. economy to lose somewhere between $30 billion to $70 billion in revenue each year. Another report suggests this problem could get even worse, potentially reaching up to $113 billion in lost revenue by 2027, which could lead to job losses in the hundreds of thousands. As streaming becomes a more significant part of how videos are distributed, media providers must adapt to fight against these smart pirates and protect their earnings.

Digital rights management (DRM) technologies are designed to securely deliver content to subscribers. Checking these DRM systems helps prevent piracy and safeguard intellectual property. Local testers who are in the real-world environment can ensure that the companies using these DRM technologies have implemented them correctly in their latest content releases and can provide insights into how these technologies might be circumvented. When pirated streams are less available or harder to access, people are more likely to subscribe instead of trying to find unauthorized copies of their favorite content.

Fighting digital piracy also means making sure that companies using DRM follow their agreements. For instance, a company might not be doing enough to stop users from recording a live event using screen recording software. DRM validation can uncover these issues and help brands protect their content streams.

Challenge #5: Device and platform compatibility

There are a huge number of device and operating system combinations all around the world, and some of them only work in the country where they’re sold. This device ecosystem is becoming even more complicated as more products are released every year.

This creates a big challenge for content protection testing: How can you protect against security flaws on all these devices? Most teams focus on testing the devices that matter most to their customers and draw a line somewhere to keep the testing manageable. But having too many gaps in device coverage can leave your content vulnerable.

Digital rights management (DRM) technologies keep changing as new platforms and operating systems come out. These changes include solutions specific to certain platforms, like Apple FairPlay Streaming, Google Widevine, and Microsoft PlayReady. There are also devices in specific regions that use their own DRM technologies, such as OPPO, Xiaomi, vivo, and Huawei phones, as well as Hisense, Vizio, and Insignia TVs. Content protection teams might not have access to all these devices, which is why they need resources like real-world crowdtesting, as provided by Applause.

Compatibility testing for devices and platforms is part of content security testing, which aims to make sure your content is secure. Other things content security teams need to check include encryption, keeping security up to date, and making sure third-party connections are safe.

Partner up to bolster your defenses

The best way to ensure that your streaming products are safe from real-world threats is to test them with real people who are in the actual market, using the right combinations of devices and operating systems.

Applause is a global leader in testing and digital quality assurance. They specialize in evaluating customer experiences and safeguarding intellectual properties for well-known media brands worldwide. The Applause community comprises over one million digital experts who can assist streaming media providers in identifying weaknesses in their content protection strategies and extending their coverage to markets that may be challenging to access otherwise.

If you’re ready to start protecting your intellectual properties against the myriad ongoing — and growing — threats to content revenue, talk with us today to define your goals. We’d love to help exceed them.