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Media & Entertainment: 7 Reasons to Up Your Identity Management Testing Game Right Now

Why identity management testing is a vital step in securing users’ personal data and your content against theft while providing a seamless subscriber experience.

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As consumers’ news, media and entertainment habits shift post-pandemic, it’s more essential than ever for content delivery providers to avoid costly data breaches and protect their content from illegal use and revenue loss.

From account fraud, sharing and takeover enabled by password sharing and identity theft to piracy, media and entertainment companies are facing a renewed battle to secure the journey of their content to paying customers while protecting their subscribers’ personally identifiable information.

With cyberattacks involving usernames and passwords increasing a startling 450% in 2020 from 2019, translating into more than 1 billion compromised records in the USA alone, robust identity management (IDM) policies and systems are a must.

This makes testing these policies and systems a crucial weapon in keeping your content and users’ details safe to deliver frictionless subscriber experiences that build trust and loyalty with existing audiences and attract new ones. Here’s why.

1.   Giving customers more of what they want

IDM is how streaming services deliver customer-centric content and experiences that keep them ahead of the competition. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic consumer demand for streaming services was booming. Now, following a massive explosion in at-home media and entertainment consumption – across news, TV, video, music and gaming – streaming companies are competing to keep the subscribers they gained and win new ones.

This contest is all about content and the subscriber experience. As consumers adapt to a post-lockdown world and trim their at-home entertainment budgets, they expect streaming services to deliver more of the content they want in a secure and hassle-free environment.

2.   Avoiding customer churn

Now that the pandemic is slowly improving, consumers are left with the decision of which media subscriptions are worth keeping and which they should ditch in favor of reallocating funds to going out and socializing.

Consumers are also becoming more picky, choosing to dip in and out of their monthly subscriptions according to what content is available and takes their fancy. In other words, over a twelve-month period, the typical household may be signed up to three video or TV streaming services, but only watching and paying for one each month before switching to another.

Media and entertainment companies, of course, are desperate to hang on to the audiences they gained during the early days of the pandemic. IDM solutions enable customer profiling according to viewing, listening or playing habits. This lets service providers personalize the customer experience and content discovery to entice or tease subscribers with similar content – including new and exclusive content – that keeps them hooked.

3.   Everyone shares their media accounts… don’t they?

Actually, they don’t. But many customers view password sharing for streaming services as harmless, especially when sharing household accounts that allow multiple users on multiple devices. Indeed, approximately 39% of millennials share their password and don’t even think of it as fraud or theft.

In a nutshell, it’s not unusual for people to trade, say, their household Netflix password for their friend or relative’s HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Hulu or Disney+ password.

However, the reality is that password sharing and piracy cost streaming and pay-tv giants an estimated $9.1 billion in lost revenue in 2019 alone, a figure that is set to rise to $12.5 billion in 2024, according to Parks Associates.

And, of course, the problem with account fraud is that it goes beyond illegitimate streaming of content. Once account passwords are shared, control over account access is lost, opening a can of worms around malicious use of account credentials, such as payment card details, and content piracy.

4.   Giving content away free is getting too expensive

The big media companies are well aware of password sharing and the lost revenue that results. Indeed, historically, rather than cracking down on such behaviors content distributors have taken a soft approach. Why? Because they see today’s account-sharing flexibility as creating tomorrow’s new customers and revenue streams.

How does that work? Unofficial viewers, listeners and players help create a buzz around content which encourages others to sign up and pay up. Non-paying users can also boost revenues for ad-supported streaming providers. Plus, most providers sell different tiers of service that limit the number of concurrent streams. So, when subscribers that share accounts bump into streaming limits they often simply pay more to upgrade.

Content owners and business analysts are already expressing concerns about the amount of content service providers are giving away to unofficial users. And at some point, of course, streaming markets will become saturated and media companies no longer able to afford to give away their content for free.

5.   Building consumer trust

Despite consumers’ casual approach to sharing their account details with friends and extended family, they still worry about identity theft, unauthorized use of their personal data and financial loss. And who can blame them given the number of account-hacking stories over recent years, some associated with big-name media companies.

A strong, error-free IDM solution that only collects the personal information that service providers absolutely need to deliver a secure viewing, gaming or listening experience rebuilds consumer trust in media companies.

6.   Stopping content piracy

Right now, service providers have another problem to solve, film and TV piracy, which is mounting a comeback.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying growth in digital distribution has focused minds on the battle to protect premium content from piracy. Not least, because with disrupted movie-theater distribution during lockdown, the likes of Disney and Apple experimented with pushing new movie releases to direct-to-customer channels. Think “Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson released concurrently in movie theaters and on Disney+, and Apple paying $100 million plus for world rights to “Emancipation” starring Will Smith.

Likewise, as the pandemic eases, livestreamed premium sports coverage is back on the list of attractive targets for pirate streaming services.

As these pirate services become more sophisticated, IDM is one of many tools that helps service providers, content owners and broadcasters to protect the content delivery journey to legitimate audiences and avoid revenue loss.

7.   Staying compliant

Failing to address piracy and account fraud, sharing and takeover enabled by password sharing and identity theft doesn’t just dent profits. It can also put streaming service providers at risk of breaching licensing agreements with media owners, many of which are country specific.

Robust IDM policies, practices and technology solutions are also at the heart of addressing SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance to prevent fraud and ensure that financial reports are secure and reliable.

IDM also helps media and entertainment content providers avoid compromising payment card data to meet PCI SSC (payment card industry security standards council) requirements. Plus, it keeps them compliant with global data privacy regulations, such as the GDPR (Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) – all while ensuring that the user experience for legitimate subscribers is not spoilt.

Finding a winning IDM testing solution

Clearly, media and entertainment companies are dealing with mountains of content, huge subscriber numbers across multiple territories, and a host of tiered service options. Netflix, for example, currently offers its movie and TV streaming service in more than 190 countries.

This means any small error in business logic and how that is applied to your systems is inevitably magnified to often punitive ends. Qualitest, for example, recently identified and fixed a $1 pricing error for one of its media clients, that multiplied over the company’s subscriber base, prevented the client losing millions of dollars.

This places a huge burden on getting your testing right to ensure that your IDM and authentication systems keep the right people in – offering them a seamless user experience – and keep the wrong people out.

An IDM Testing Solution for You and Your Customers

Qualitest’s engineers have extensive knowledge and experience of testing both the business logic and application of IDM systems to authenticate users for media and entertainment companies and protect subscribers’ personally identifiable information.

Our engineers provide context-based solutions that support your security and authentication end to end across gaming, music, news, TV and video streaming. They ensure you can upsell your services and products and match access to your customers’ next steps. Want to know more? Talk to us.

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