Dish Bets on Blockchain to Combat Content Piracy

Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) has filed a patent application for a blockchain-based anti-piracy system, according to a CoinDesk report. In the application, Dish describes inserting code into digital content. The system would alert content owners whenever their content is used without permission.

Piracy is a major problem for the content production and distribution industry. The US government estimates that the country’s television and film industry loses as much as $71 billion annually in revenue due to digital video piracy. Also, the government estimates that content piracy results in 560,000 lost US jobs every year.

Dish explores using blockchain to fight privacy

Dish has thought of using blockchain technology to combat content piracy as it battles IPTV pirates. The company has sued several pirate IPTV operators for stealing its content. Dish is also pursuing pirate IPTV subscribers with demand letters.

Cord-cutting and piracy have put pressure on Dish’s pay-TV business. The company lost 66,000 subscribers in its legacy satellite pay-TV business in the third quarter of 2019. Selling satellite pay-TV subscriptions is Dish’s main business. Therefore, weakness in the business resulted in Dish recording a 6.7% YoY (year-over-year) revenue decline in the third quarter. The company’s profit for the quarter fell by 18% YoY.

Dish has explored other business opportunities due to the deteriorating pay-TV business. Currently, the company has its sights on the wireless market. Dish hopes to jumpstart its entry into the wireless market by purchasing divested T-Mobile and Sprint assets.

Netflix struggles with the piracy problem

Content privacy is a headache for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) as well. The company has been struggling with content piracy in the form of password sharing. Netflix loses more than $1.6 billion in revenue annually due to password sharing. Netflix has to borrow to plug its cash shortages due to revenue leaks from password sharing.

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is also concerned about piracy of its Disney+ content. The company teamed up with Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) to combat piracy of Disney+ videos.

Dish’s thought of using blockchain to fight content piracy mirrors steps that IBM and Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) have taken.

IBM built a blockchain-based food tracking platform in a bid to improve food safety. Walmart and other retailers have adopted IBM’s platform to trace the origin of food in their stores. Alibaba built a blockchain system to help combat counterfeiting.