Piracy is a growing problem for the television industry. Networks large and small have had to deal with cyber pirates leaking episodes online. If nothing is done to stop the leak of copyrighted content, more and more shows may lose live viewers to online piracy. Now, NBC has found a new way to combat piracy that could be a game-changer. NBC Universal has developed a new technology to help stop the illegal spread of episodes before they're too widely circulated.
NBC Universal has secured the patent to the technology that targets high-volume file sharing of content that has been pirated, according to Home Media Magazine. Users on peer-to-peer networks will find themselves struggling to illegally distribute episodes if the technology is as effective as NBC hopes. The tech is designed to alert websites and ISPs when piracy is detected. Ideally, leaks will be locked down before content can be widely downloaded.
Pirates are often able to avoid authorities by using P2P networks that enable access to copyrighted material en masse. ISPs can be overwhelmed when too many users try to access pirated content at once, which can have significant financial repercussions of all companies and networks involved. If NBC Universal can catch on to piracy earlier, network resources can be dispatched with specificity to prevent wasted time and money.
The new technology has been in the works since 2009. In the years since it began development, piracy has gotten worse for NBC. The Blacklist was the ninth most-downloaded TV show in 2015, and the highly-anticipated pilot for last year's Blindspot leaked online months before it was scheduled to air live. Hannibal executive producer Martha De Laurentiis blames piracy as the cause for the show's low Nielsen ratings and subsequent cancellation after Season 3. NBC could certainly use this new anti-piracy tech as soon as possible.
Of course, NBC is not the only network suffering from illegal uploads and leaks. HBO has been dealing with widespread piracy in recent years; Game of Thrones topped the lists of most-downloaded series in both 2014 and 2015. AMC has been getting creative to stop episodes of The Walking Dead leaking to hopefully avoid earning spots alongside Game of Thrones on the most-downloaded lists. Netflix has factored the effects of piracy into its business model. CBS had Supergirl spreading online six months before it would premiere, and even the comparatively diminutive CW had a big episode of Arrow leaked in 2015. If NBC's technology works, other networks may need to scramble to keep up.
Fall TV premiere season is fast approaching, and networks will likely see piracy problems pick up sooner rather than later. We'll have to wait and see if NBC is able to get the early edge on pirates and stop content from making it online.