According to Variety, AMC is now working with technology from Civolution’s NexGuard, a digital antipiracy program, to make the swiping of episodes from The Walking Dead and their other originals harder. They can’t prevent the episodes from escaping, but this will make them easier to catch the crooks.
Before all those minimum-wage-making pizza delivery boys who can barely afford their rent let alone cable start panicking, this isn’t a measure that’s going to work on post-air piracy — those who record an episode when it airs and upload it to filesharing sites later. In fact, the watermark won’t be appearing on the aired version at all. It’s for the early, pre-release versions of TV episodes that get sent to international distributors and their subcontractors. These companies perform services like in-language dubbing on episodes, and they’re the places most likely to experience a pre-air leak.
By embedding these episodes with a secret watermark, it’s AMC’s hope that should a Walking Dead or Better Call Saul episode escape into Pirate Bay early, they’ll be able to track the leak to its source. Each company will get a different mark.
When you’re confronted with the fact that The Walking Dead is distributed to over 120 countries worldwide, you might understand the AMC execs’ inability to sleep at night. If the Negan episode gets out before it’s supposed to, the value the advertisers paid for will be diminished and the ratings will suffer (in theory).
The new measures are unlikely, however, to dethrone The Walking Dead’s status as the most pirated TV series currently running.