By Chrys Poulain, Sales Director at NexGuard

Despite the Chinese government only allowing 38 foreign films to be released in China every year, it has become a magnet for foreign film industries looking to boost box office revenues. What attracts foreign film executives is the country’s 1 billion strong population and rapidly growing box office, which increased by 50% in 2016.

However, once content owners get the green light for their film to be distributed in China, the next challenge is getting people to watch it legally. It is estimated that 95% of Time Warner films watched in China are being either illegally downloaded or resold as counterfeit equivalents; pirated Hollywood and Chinese films are also commonly sold on street corners.

In order to preserve the Chinese film industry, which is projected to overtake Hollywood and become the world’s largest box office in the next couple of years, it is crucial that content owners in the region work towards tackling the illegal redistribution of content.

With Peer-2-Peer platforms and illegal re-streaming services flourishing in China, how can content owners and distributors protect their valuable media assets?

The answer is simple: they need to deploy the right mix of content protection solutions, including forensic watermarking.

We have recently been selected by Time Antaeus Cinema Line Corporation in order to help them tackle the piracy challenge in e-cinemas. By adding an invisible identifier in a piece of content distributed in e-cinemas, we can retrieve any video asset, even when pirates capture it using a camcorder.

While this application is compelling for digital cinemas, it is also valuable for payTV and Video on Demand services, where the bulk of Chinese content is made available to the general public.

At Broadcast Asia, I discussed how broadcasters, pay-TV operators and content producers can protect their most valuable assets at every step of the content chain. Our forensic watermarking solutions have already been deployed by iQiyi and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China, giving us a thorough understanding of the local market and how governments, standard bodies and the content industry need to approach the copyright issue to change mentalities.

The fight against piracy in one of the world’s most populous countries is still ongoing: governments and the content industry are taking the necessary steps to minimise content theft and change consumer’s views on watching content illegally. We have established a number of strong partnerships in China and we are proud to be providing the Chinese content industry with the right tools to tackle content theft and maintain creativity in one of the world’s fastest growing box offices.