Muso, the London-based technology company that tracks online content piracy has raised a further £3.5 million investment. The round represents an extension to its 2017 Series A raise that brought in a £2.5 million cash injection.
Muso’s technology monitors visits and downloads from pirate sites, with rights holders buying the data. That then informs their piracy policy as well as offering insight into user demand, behaviour and shapes campaigns to convert pirated content downloaders into paying clients. Muso also offers services around forcing pirate sites into removing unlicensed content.
The start-up was founded in 2009 by Andy Chatterley, a Grammy-nominated record producer who has worked with artists such as Kylie Minogue and Blondie. Existing clients include Sony, IMG and Entertainment One, the Canadian multinational mass media and entertainment company. It made the headlines this week reporting that its data indicated an illegal audience of 55 million viewers for the first episode of the new and final season of hit HBO series Game of Thrones. HBO itself reported official viewing figures of 17.4 million.
Despite the trend towards affordable content streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify which give viewers legal access to large libraries of content, including most current hit shows, piracy continues to be a major problem for the entertainment industry. Piracy is particularly prevalent in developing economies where subscription streaming services such as Netflix are comparatively more expensive compared to local salary averages or have less extensive catalogues.
However, even in countries such as the UK, services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, despite offering extensive catalogues, don’t hold the rights to every hit show. Game of Thrones, for example, isn’t available on Netflix. Rather than paying for several subscriptions, viewers may opt for one that offers them access to most of what they want to watch legally. But still resort to pirate sights to download exceptions.
The rich data on user behaviour on piracy sights provided by Muso’s tracking technology is a valuable resource for rights owners in three main ways. Firstly, it gives them more accurate data on real viewing numbers of their shows than official data. That can help shape future strategy. Secondly, it can help rights holders build business models that better convince viewers to pay for content rather than download or stream it illegally. And thirdly, it can help them find the pirate sites offering their content so they can both pursue them legally where possible and force them to take it down.