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What the Future of Video Tech Looks Like New technology known as video virtualization could be the remedy the industry needs to eradicate APAC's video piracy woes

By Chris Richardson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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From cinema and TV, to VCRs and DVDs, to live feeds and MP4s, the humble video has had a constant role in our lives for over a century.

When it comes to the future of content in the digital age, there is no question video is, and will continue to be, the king. Whether it's advertising, news, sportscasting, social media, education, or even surveillance, video has immersed itself in our everyday lives.

But the way it is accessed, managed and manipulated hasn't changed dramatically, and it needs to, in order to meet modern opportunities and challenges.

The Global Effect

Cisco forecasts that video will dominate the global Internet traffic landscape, accounting for more than 82 per cent of Internet traffic by 2021, increasing its online presence at a rapid 31 per cent annually.

Across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region in particular, the video streaming software market is anticipated to grow at a rate of 26 per cent per annum. And when it comes to the online video industry, it's set to more than double its share of video industry revenue over the next few years.

Given these figures, it's probably no surprise that Deloitte's recent "Global Digital Media Report" found that 50 per cent of adults in developed countries currently subscribe to two or more online media services, with that figure expected to double to four by 2020.

In this context, what's surprising is that advertising and subscription fees across TV and online video in APAC, excluding China, only grew 3.9 per cent last year. Sure, the total value tipped over US$60 billion but, when compared to these other statistics, there's certainly room for content providers to accelerate that growth rate.

The trick lies in the ability to package and deliver content in more appealing, ultra-segmented ways that meet the expectations of today's audience for increasingly tailored content experiences.

But is there something else holding back progress?

It could come down to video piracy.

Pirates Plunder Video

Piracy remains the biggest challenge for the Asia Pacific region's pay TV industry, affecting growth and revenue.

It's also being looted more so than anywhere else in the world—Asia Pacific's paid streaming services are said to lose the most money from video piracy compared to any region in 2018, surpassing North America.

This year it's been estimated that piracy has cost the region about US$1.6 billion, with 14 per cent of households engaged in some form of video piracy.

The pirates don't just plague the streaming services either—they've got their sights set on the broadcasting market too.

Live televising of high-profile sporting events is a huge money maker for broadcasters. However, signal piracy in APAC is corroding many TV stations' income streams.

China's state television broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), has been subject to repeated piracy attacks, with its broadcasts of the 2016 Rio Olympics closing ceremony pirated at a rate of around 35 per cent through online video websites.

Signal piracy makes it more difficult for broadcasters like CCTV to on-sell content, but also to appeal to advertisers when viewer numbers are impacted by illegal streaming sites.

But the industry is fighting back.

Last year, Asia's leading trade body for the pay TV industry, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, announced the establishment of the Coalition Against Piracy, collaborating with several major entertainment companies including Fox and HBO Asia.

The coalition's efforts so far have been based on working with other industry groups, government and technology partners to enforce copyright law and promote initiatives that educate consumers.

While such industry-led initiatives form an important part of the anti-piracy toolkit, advanced methods of video management, manipulation and distribution are emerging as a key technology-based antidote.

Stay tuned: Video Virtualization as Piracy Prevention

New technology known as video virtualization could be the remedy the industry needs to eradicate APAC's video piracy woes.

Basically, the video virtualization process exposes the data within traditional digital video, enabling content to be searched, spliced, manipulated and personalized at a hyper-granular level for the first time.

The technology offers the ability to introduce data-level security, leveraging artificial intelligence and intelligent business rules, to insert protection barriers within the actual video itself.

So in the case of streaming, video virtualization technology could be the lock that stops pirates from being able to exploit and repurpose the video content in the first place.

The video virtualization process also has the potential to help broadcasters address "rampant" signal piracy concerns, outlined by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and World Intellectual Property Organization this year, which are "impeding the ability (for broadcasters) to secure their broadcasting rights and jeopardizing the financial sustainability of sporting events".

Once the first step of the virtualization process exposes the data within traditional video, the data is then indexed to create a light-weight virtual video file. The virtual file calls back to the actual data source, recompiling the video at the point of playback. No recognisable audio or visual components are transmitted from source to screen (just raw data), meaning that there's no usable content to steal and disseminate.

But it's not just the prevention of unsolicited content dissemination where video virtualization technology can provide new possibilities.

Beyond Anti-piracy

Video virtualization technology also opens up a whole new world of video use cases, capable of rapidly accelerating the advertising and subscription revenue for TV and streaming services throughout APAC (not to mention the world).

Exposing, enriching and virtualizing video data enables both content providers and consumers to programmatically search for specific objects within any video stream or catalogue, stitch together relevant clips from disparate sources on-the-fly, and instantly assemble them into a single hyper-personalized stream that's ready for immediate playback.

It also means that, for the first time, broadcasters and streaming companies can track and analyze hyper-granular content consumption habits — down to the frame-level for individual consumers.

Commercially, there are two big takeaways:

  1. Content providers can deliver hyper-personalized content experiences to subscribers, for which they can charge a premium
  2. Content providers can enable advertisers to push hyper-targeted promotions to individual viewers by matching subscriber demographic data with frame-level consumption data

Touched, For the First Time

Treating video as data and virtualizing it could enable APAC broadcasters and streaming services to transition from victims of piracy, to leaders in subscription and ad-based revenue, by delivering previously impossible hyper-personalized video experiences.

What's more, virtualizing video content also brings all the convenience and low operating costs we've come to expect from virtualized services, which have supported the management and storage of non-video data for years, to video content itself.

This new way of working has the potential to completely transform how video content is produced, delivered and consumed.

Video may have killed the radio star, but we can ensure piracy doesn't do the same to video.

Chris Richardson

CEO, Linius Technologies


Chris is a global entrepreneur and investor. He sits on the board of directors of Mirovoy Sales, a sales outsourcing company based in Prague, the Czech Republic; The Ibis Network Limited, a content marketing agency based in Hong Kong; and is a partner in CW Richardson & Associates, a management consulting firm focused on small technology businesses around the world.

With over 20 years of sales, marketing, and operations management experience, Chris brings Silicon Valley best practices to technology companies around the world.

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