The network that brought America extraordinary shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad is tired of people getting away with viewing it all for free.
AMC announced today that it would be executing new “forensic watermarks” for its zombie classic to prevent any leaks or illegal downloads ever again, Variety reports. Much like a renovation on a house, the network will partner with cyber contractors to inspect the passages of their TV show and discover where exactly the copies are leaking away. AMC will hire these subcontractors through their distributors across the globe, whether they be American or South Asian and on.
The program AMC will implement, from a watermarking company called NexGuard, are powerful software plug-ins that will attach themselves to the systems through which The Walking Dead legally flows and then block up the channels, making it near impossible for even an intermediate hacker to steal an episode to share illegally.
AMC admits that this won’t be a perfect systematic fix by any means. The company recognized that in today’s world, there are thousands of people among their viewership with impressive coding skills and that hackers are always evolving. The network’s goal, they said today, is to shield their shows from gratuitous thievery. Said Steve Pontillo, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at AMC:
“Viewers all over the world demand day-and-date access to their favorite AMC Networks content. It is paramount for us to protect our assets when they are at their most valuable.”
AMC, like many of its fellow television companies who are battling this sea of pirates, also wants to ensure that their paying customers aren’t fools with their money. After all, if it’s that simple to watch award-winning zombie footage for free, then why shell out a single penny ever again?
While viewers themselves save incremental amounts of money by streaming pirated copies of The Walking Dead, the theft of it has been a massive financial strain that networks across the board have been trying to stem for years.
Behind Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is the second-most pirated show in the world, racking up 6.9 million illicit downloads in 2015 alone, according to TorrentFreak.
It is entirely unlikely that this will be the last move in the networks’ war against internet piracy, but AMC’s decision today to employ NexGuard may become a model for channels like NBC, CBS, and especially HBO–as Game of Thrones isn’t their only popularly-stolen asset–to emulate in the years, even months to come.