Recently, the 2019 Verizon Data Breach report highlighted that entertainment companies were the second most common target of attackers in 2018, making up 15% of all reported data breaches that year, second only to the public sector. The nearly 6,300 incidents that were reported impacted organizations of all sizes, an alarming statistic that highlights the threat level media and entertainment companies face every day.

A report from Media Player News highlights the fact that traditional consumer spending on physical media continues to decline. More consumers are streaming content from subscription video on demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video than are going to a retailer to purchase a DVD or Blu-ray disc. In response to these changing habits, new streaming platforms continue to pop up, with literally dozens of options available to consumers from a variety of content developers and distributors, including Disney, Apple, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia, as well as smaller specialty content providers such as Sports Illustrated TV. This, in turn, has put pressure on consumer’s wallets as they become enticed to purchase multiple subscriptions to access the content they love.

So, what is a consumer to do? As more SVOD services come online with wonderfully unique content, consumers are faced with a decision pay to play or break the law. Late last year an uptick in households turning to BitTorrent indicates that piracy has increased in the face of channel fragmentation. Confusingly, the message from the industry on whether this behavior is to be tolerated is mixed. This is driven directly by a disconnect between content security teams and content producers. HBO’s smash hit Game of Thrones has consistently been the most pirated TV show since 2013, and while great lengths were taken to protect the content during production of season 8, the show creators have been quoted in multiple media outlets referring to the high rate of piracy as a “badge of honor.”

The good news is that there is a lot that can be done to secure content. Companies should become much more strategic about how they structure their content security programs. Looking to centralized frameworks such as the Trusted Partner Network is the first step in creating a common verified framework all organizations can build on. However, it’s critical to get buy in from creative teams that develop and promote content around the need to take content security seriously. These protections might be a change from the current workflow environment, but in a time of declining revenues for media companies, security should be considered an integral part of the large and complex projects that are being produced. For example, Disney and Marvel Studios went to great lengths to protect Avengers: End Game from leaks and hacking, resulting in one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

Let’s work together to educate our entire community regarding the value of content security, and not just in the IT group, but from the writer’s room to the board room. Statistics show that the threat landscape is only increasing, and piracy is not the only risk. Attackers are using malware, ransomware and other malicious behavior to target our industry.

Richey May Technology Solutions offers a wide variety of content, technology and cybersecurity managed services to help media and entertainment companies operate efficiently and securely. For more information, contact us.