Shane McCarthy is Chief Operating Officer of the video entertainment business unit at Irdeto. He is a seasoned industry executive with more than 20 years of experience within the media and technology industries. A developer by background, Shane has a strong track record in business growth having held key strategic positions at Pace, including the President of the International Business, where he was instrumental building a near USD $1B business. Prior to joining Irdeto, he spent five years as an entrepreneur, building a successful consultancy business in the media and technology sectors. Shane holds a B.Eng Hons degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Bolton. In his spare time, he is a trustee of one the largest junior football leagues in the UK and coaches football for two of his young children.
Please share the story behind Irdeto: How did it all start, and how has it evolved so far?
A passionate engineer and a pioneer in television technology, Pieter den Toonder laid the foundations for the thriving business that Irdeto has become. His fascination as a youth with radio technology was the catalyst for the origins of the company. From Pieter’s ground-breaking work many years ago, Irdeto has grown from an operation with a single employee to a rapidly expanding digital platform cybersecurity company at the top of its game, with clients and partners across the globe and countless new business opportunities worldwide. Our unique technologies and strategies have enabled everything from the world’s first digital satellite pay-TV network to the world’s first mobile broadcast TV service – distinguishing Irdeto on the international stage.
Irdeto has become the world leader in digital platform cybersecurity, empowering businesses to innovate for a secure, connected future. Building on over 50 years of expertise in security, Irdeto’s services and solutions protect revenue, enable growth and fight cybercrime in video entertainment, video games, and connected industries, including transport and health.
As COO of Irdeto for Video Entertainment, what continues to drive you and the company?
We currently provide security to most of the major players across the video entertainment space, and we want to continue to be recognized as the global leader in digital platform cybersecurity, empowering businesses to innovate for a secure, connected future. As our market and customers evolve, it’s important that we as a company evolve in tandem to continue to ensure optimal security and service to our current and future customers, further accelerating our progress. I am glad to be part of a company that wants to empower a secure world where people can connect with confidence.
What effect has the pandemic had on OTT and how has Irdeto had to adapt its offerings or partnerships?
During the pandemic, social distancing norms and isolation of people have increased at-home digital consumption, thus creating a surge in demand for subscription-based streaming services. The pandemic has also shown that cybersecurity threats, in general, are increasing, so one of the things we also started to focus more on is education. We want to increase our ability to fight cybercrime and bring more ground-breaking tools to the table, allowing us to identify issues quicker. Educating the end consumer, along with our customers, will play a key part in that. Cybersecurity threats at home will increase because there will be more devices connected to more platforms, which presents more vulnerabilities. In essence, we can’t get away from the core. We need to encrypt content, operators need to be vigilant, and we need to keep evolving.
What are some of the biggest challenges faced in tackling piracy and protecting content?
I think the biggest challenge is that piracy has become a 24/7 operation because of OTT. The threats are evolving very rapidly, we need to be consistently and continuously monitoring. Beyond the detection, companies must do takedowns, which include working with local law enforcement to stop the illegal content distribution in its tracks.
From the United States to Europe to Malaysia, governments are introducing legislation to help in the fight against piracy and to increase cybersecurity in general. Having that legislation support is so important in the fight against piracy. Nowadays, law enforcement agencies are banding together to take down pirates who operate in multiple countries and jurisdictions. INTERPOL’s US$3.1 million INTERPOL Stop Online Piracy (I-SOP) initiative is a prime example of cross-border collaboration. But this also drives pirates to operate in countries where no such legislation is in place. They simply avoid prosecution by circumventing the countries that implement it.
Which trends or technologies within the industry do you find particularly interesting these days?
Digital Rights Management, or DRM, will evolve, workflows around how content is managed in the backend will evolve, and we will get more solutions based on machine learning that will give us a higher degree of certainty around the detection of pirate content. Also, the time it takes to detect pirated content and take it down needs to be reduced, particularly when it comes to live events. We have been developing a lot of our technologies to reduce that window during live events and have successfully done so.
High-profile events are the ultimate test for OTT services and that is why it is so important for a multi-DRM solution to deliver the required reliability and availability to meet industry expectations. If an OTT service goes down for just a few seconds during an important event, the impact on the pay-TV operator or streaming provider can be catastrophic. We at Irdeto have Irdeto Control multi-DRM cloud service, which offers an industry-leading SLA of 99.999%, plus a series of additional services, including 24×7 dedicated customer support and operational supervision by Service Operation Center and multichannel communication alternatives to guarantee broadcast-like reliability and availability of the streaming service.
Finally, with a growing number of OTT platforms hitting the market, retaining viewers will be a challenge. Offering great subscription packages and top-notch, original content won’t be enough. Platforms with intuitive interfaces, intelligent search options, and personalized content recommendations will emerge as winners.
How do you see the piracy landscape evolving, and what plans does Irdeto have for future development accordingly?
Piracy is an evolving thing, and there’s no silver bullet to stop piracy. In today’s world, piracy evolves hourly and daily. In the past, we would take down a pirate’s network, and it would stay down for a long while. Nowadays, it can be up the next day. With this new landscape, operators and content owners will have to play a more active role in fighting piracy.
For consumers, there are more content subscription options now, and it’s all adding up and getting more expensive. Some consumers will likely be driven towards finding cheaper content and therefore resort to piracy. I think the operators will have to look into how to provide more economical solutions to their customers.
Operators should also be thinking about additional levels of protection; like improving DRM technology that is becoming increasingly easy for pirates to circumvent. Or implementing robust geofencing and geoblocking to quell distribution that starts with an access request from an unauthorized region. Tokenization can protect video entertainment just as it protects valuable payment data if Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) use it to protect their streams.
We know two things for certain: none of us can stop piracy on our own, and there’s no silver bullet to stopping piracy. It takes the collective effort of the entire industry. From conscientious and vigilant content producers and operators to security and anti-piracy experts. And from local law enforcement and lobbying to global collaboration. While we currently may be living in the Age of the Pirate, industry players have the power in their hands to bring them down and keep them from returning.
Chené is a dynamic content writer especially interested in MarTech and digital marketing. Residing in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, South Africa, her interests include being active in the outdoors, exploring the city and connecting with others.
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Great article. Piracy runs 24/7 and ever evolving these days. Untiring anti-piracy protection is essential. Only dedicated effort would enable the protection get tighter in real time.
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