SVG Europe Sit-Down: David Leporini, executive vice-president of marketing, products and security, Viaccess-Orca
French-Israeli company, TV everywhere and anti-piracy solutions specialist Viaccess-Orca is a continually rising star of the broadcast technology firmament. In particular, its Eye on Piracy solution has provided leading broadcasters worldwide with the means to fight what is surely the most rapidly expanding threat to their businesses.
On a busy Viaccess-Orca stand at this year’s TV Connect in London, executive vice-president of marketing, products and security, David Leporini, took time out to reflect on the current levels of awareness of security issues – and the innovations being delivered to ensure a more personalised viewing experience for all manner of sports content.
During the recent ICC Cricket World Cup, broadcaster OSN worked with Viaccess-Orca to deliver an initiative aimed at combating the real-time distribution and viewing of illegal content. To what extent do you think this project is indicative of broadcasters per se getting to grips with piracy?
In general, I think the fact that we are still discussing with various players in the value chain from rights’ owners to broadcasters to content aggregators is a sign that a) this is a becoming a siginficant problem and a challenge to face, and b) the industry has not fully stabilised on who needs to do something about it.
Regarding OSN and the ICC Cricket World Cup, they really wanted to understand the nature of the problem and act upon such an assessment. They had acquired rights of the ICC Cricket World Cup for the MENA region – representing a big investment – so were keen to ensure that they do everything to protect the content. So before the World Cup started, we defined the information required to have the right inputs for the anti-piracy platform. It is very important to have the ability to monitor and grab information sufficiently in advance. If you don’t have it in due time, you won’t achieve great coverage of link farms and content platforms and might not be efficient in tracking all those illegal streams and then in your takedown results.
Is it possible to estimate how serious the piracy problem is at this time – and is it getting worse?
In terms of P2P-based operations, it is possible to quickly get all of the necessary information – numbers of peers, location…. Then for direct web streaming, we generally have access to partial information based on investigations we are conducting upon which a reasonable extrapolation is obtained.
Overall, we are able to assess how many people are accessing illegal streams, and how the usage is evolving. Depending on the type of event – and the ICC Cricket World Cup is a good example here – the more a tournament progresses, the more streams you will usually get as expected.
The number of users per stream varies, but for an average event you could be looking at 10,000 to 50,000-plus people per streaming server. For an event like the ICC Cricket World Cup, the cumulative number could be as high as tens of million accessing illegal streams, so the total can begin to be very significant.
In what ways is Viaccess-Orca looking to help sports broadcasters, in particular, to protect their content?
We are working to address a missing link that exists in the chain. Basically, the [broadcaster] is deploying various security technologies to protect content, and then you have the monitoring service on the content that is actually being illegally distributed. You really want to be able to efficiently bridge the two, and that is an area we are looking at now.
What it comes down to is the need for a link between security, distribution and anti-piracy services. For example, it may be revoking the device at the origin of the illegal streaming.
What is the outlook for more personalised sports viewing experiences… and what is Viaccess-Orca doing to help bring these about?
We are doing a lot of to allow personalisation of the viewing experience. In particular, we are taking steps to address the fact that whilst there is a lot of value in delivering great sports content in 4K/UHD, the big screen is not natively designed for personalised viewing experiences. So one of the things we are showcasing is a way to transition a personalised experience from your mobile device or tablet to the main TV screen. Essentially it mirrors the personal interaction of a TV everywhere-type application to deliver a personalised TV experience. Using a technology we call Online Messaging Platform, part of our Voyage for Cross-Screen engagement solution, you can use all the personal profile information from your mobile device, then swipe it to the TV.
How much farther down the road of individualised sports viewing experiences do you think we will be 2-3 years from now?
This is difficult to predict, but I think any live event, and sports in particular, is almost by definition subject to a very personal experience. So we will continue to see more developments in this area: for example, the ability to select ‘preferred’ cameras in stadiums and greater interaction with regard to social interactions for fan engagement.
It is really still early days for fully personalised experiences. Many broadcasters are still in the process of learning that there is a lot to gain from obtaining information from end-users and acting upon their preferences. The next step will be to gather information in such a way that the feedback-loop is shortened and a greater customer experience can be delivered almost in real-time.
Finally, what can we expect from Viaccess-Orca as we move towards IBC 2015?
Well, it’s top secret but I can say a few words. There is a need for operators and telcos to more easily and quickly launch content services projects. Scalability is crucial here, and I think we will continue to see interesting developments here as more and more content service deployments move to the cloud. There is a call for a single unified service platform to enable quicker deployment and continuous improvements of services. This is something we have started to do and will talk about more at IBC.