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Piracy has long been a hurdle for the entertainment industry. Leaks happen from time to time, resulting in viewer and revenue loss for global media giants. According to a report from Forbes, pirated video material gets over 230 billion views each year, costing the U.S. economy between $29.2 and $71 billion.
The problem is nothing short of inevitable in the digital age, but London-based Muso is turning the challenge into an opportunity by mobilizing global piracy data. The company today raised $3.9 million from Puma Private Equity.
Muso’s piracy analytics
Muso tracks billions of visits, views and downloads across P2P and unlicensed streaming sites and provides entertainment networks with consumption- and audience-related insights to inform their content strategy.
“Piracy data by its nature is highly unstructured, and the piracy ecosystem is constantly evolving, making it a highly challenging area to measure. The piracy sites themselves frequently switch domains, with new sites appearing daily. Other challenges include the ability to accurately identify content, with piracy sites following no set labeling standards,” Andy Chatterley, CEO of Muso, told VentureBeat.
The company uses microservices architecture and proprietary technologies to handle these changes and accurately convert the whole mass of unstructured data into structured information. Once this is done, the information is processed and provided to enterprises through a dashboard or API, helping them gain insights into the global consumption of unlicensed digital content. This ultimately helps them acquire and commission new content, unlock new marketing opportunities, leverage value in licensing negotiations, inform antipiracy strategy and maximize and optimize windowing strategies.
“The data is used by multiple parties, including studios and networks who want to better understand global audiences and content demand, talent agents who want to understand the impact on their clients’ revenues, cinema groups who want to maximize revenues, and broadcasters and VoD platforms who want to identify titles for acquisition and commission. These groups and more use piracy data to drive up the value of digital content and maximize revenue and ROI,” Chatterley said.
At the core, Muso’s platform tracks over 325,000 film and TV titles across global piracy networks every day. This data powers three core products: Discover, Protect and Connect. Discover, as the company explains, measures the daily consumption of digital media across the global piracy network. Protect uses Discover’s tracking capabilities to find and remove pirated content. Meanwhile, Connect helps identify audiences for digital advertising by targeting segments modeled on unlicensed audience data and behaviors.
The company started back in 2009 and has seen adoption from major media networks and companies, including Amazon Studios, The Walt Disney Company, National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), NOS, Lionsgate, MNRK (formally eOne Music) and Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe.
“We bootstrapped the company in its initial stage, growing both customers and product out slowly. This was expedited with our first investment round and we have seen strong growth and demand in our data product, delivering 330% growth in the fiscal year 2022,” Chatterley said.
With this round, the company plans to support the establishment of its marketing function and build out its sales teams in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Ultimately, the goal of the company is to take product and data capabilities to global entertainment industries.
Multiple other players also operate in the antipiracy arena – MarkMonitor, Smart Protection, Digimarc and Kopjra – but Muso claims to differentiate on the basis of its data stack. The company offers a detailed view of piracy data to help companies not only protect but also better monetize their content.
“As on-demand streaming platforms grow and drive a fragmentation of content distribution, global firms like Muso will play an increasingly important role in monitoring and tackling piracy … We look forward to working closely with the team to achieve their goals,” Harriet Rosethorn, investment manager at Puma Private Equity, said.
Between 2021 and 2022, digital piracy saw 25% YoY growth. Meanwhile, Muso measured more than 201 billion visits to websites driving piracy during the same period.