Video-streaming has brought many benefits, not least choice and the growing amount of original content, but piracy remains a major problem, which is why a group of telcos and other industry players have joined forces to tackle the issue.

Speaking at the recent All That Matters conference in Singapore, senior executives from three Asian telcos – Singtel, Globe Telecom and Tata Communications – as well as regional streaming service Hooq, set out a series of recommendations.

“We all acknowledge that it is the golden era of TV content, we have such a boom in the amount and quality of content, but that comes with the problem of piracy,” said Anurag Dahiya, head of content and ad sales at Singtel, in comments reported by Campaign Asia.

“After being on the decline for many years, piracy is going up again. It has become the biggest issue for the legitimate content industry,” he added.

The executives pointed to several factors explaining the growth of piracy in the region, including the sheer number of streaming services available that enable consumers to bypass subscription models.

More affordable and better connectivity, as well as the improved sophistication of piracy apps, is also fuelling the trend – as Dahiya noted during the panel session.

“In places like Singapore which has good connectivity, it has become much easier to pirate,” he said. “And viewers no longer have to look for a torrent site, download and then consume – it has been crunched into a box that can be connected to your TV.”

He went on to urge content providers to do more because telcos, as distributors, feel “the heat” of piracy first. “Much of the content industry have not put their shoulder to the wagon on this one,” Dahiya said. “It has to be the first objective everyone has to put on their plans: fight piracy. If we don’t do that then all our other investments are going to waste.”

Although legal enforcement is the most obvious way to deal with piracy, the executives outlined five key areas that would bolster industry-wide efforts.

Jil Bausa-Go, VP of portfolio and partner management at Globe Telecom’s Content Business Group, explained that the Filipino telco is blocking certain internet sites and is working with trade body Asia Video Industry Assocation (AVIA) to “more proactively go after” illicit streaming devices.

Telcos are also striking partnerships with legitimate content partners, while exploring whether “freemium” commercial models, where users get some content for free, would help dissuade them from using pirate sites.

Hooq chief content officer Jennifer Batty raised a fourth area of activity – that of trying to persuade content providers to agree to simultaneous release dates.

“It is incredibly important for us to have content that is exclusive and day-and-date, so we can run a series at the same time as the US or with the original broadcast,” she said.

“That means we can get it to a local audience as quickly as possible and ideally quicker than piracy sites, so we give people an alternative to watch content legally at affordable prices.”

Finally, Mehul Kapadia, global head of marketing at Tata Communications, said that education is key to help consumers understand the impact piracy has on the long-term prospects for the entertainment industry.

“The solution will come from multiple angles, but deep-rooted it has to be education,” he said. “That is the reality: you have to stop pirating if you want the entertainment industry to sustain, because that is what gives billions of us joy.”

Sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by WARC staff