NAB 2018: Friend MTS Adds 4K to Video Streaming Security Suite

Las Vegas – Looking to stay ahead of what could be a new wave of streaming piracy focused on ultra-premium content, Friend MTS has launched a 4K variant of its “ASiD” digital watermarking and video security platform.  

Friend MTS exec Neil Sharpe at Monday's NAB presser. 

Friend MTS exec Neil Sharpe at Monday's NAB presser. 

The launch complements Friend MTS’s video security services for standard- and high-definition content. Friend MTS’ core business is focused on live sports and other forms of premium entertainment, and uses fingerprint-based content recognition that is invisible to the viewer.

Friend MTS is pitching the new 4K variant as part of its overall security-as-a-service offering, which can be customized based on the distribution or content partner. The company didn’t announce any takers for the 4K component early on, but possible candidates could come way of its existing customer base, which includes NBC Sports, DirecTV, Univision, the Premier League, Sky, beIN Sports, and Foxtel, among others.  

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The new 4K variant, like Friends MTS’s other video security services, aims to identify and lock-down pirated streams within minutes, not hours. That small window is critical, especially with live sporting events, which diminish in value soon after they are concluded.  

The scale of streaming of sports piracy is “staggering,” Neil Sharpe, product marketing director at Friend MTS, said here at a press conference, noting that digital rights management and conditional access systems aren’t enough to take down this growing and increasingly sophisticated threat.  

He said the impact among rights owners and broadcasters is significant as they tend to deal with “thousands” of illegal streams over any given weekend.  

Automation and the ability to identify and deactivate illegal streams within five minutes is paramount. “The scale of this task is not appropriate for manual intervention,” Sharpe said.  

And while 720p resolution today is the most popular format for illegal streaming, because it delivers a “good enough” HD experience for big screen TVs without much worry about buffering, he said 4K-level streaming piracy is on the horizon as more events are produced and delivered in that format alongside the emergence of faster and faster broadband services.  

Friend MTS this week was awarded an Emmy for Technology and Engineering for its efforts around video identification technology used to protect content value and copyright.  

Sharpe also noted that digital video piracy has becoming increasingly sophisticated amid threats from illegal streaming devices and Kodi plug-ins, mobile apps, social media outlets and websites that are purveyors of ill-gotten content.  

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At the same time, these pirate services have become more professional-looking and are branded to mimic legitimate pay TV channels and services, making it a struggle for some consumers to realize the difference.