At $10/€10/£10 per month, give or take, illegal subscriptions are extremely cheap compared to those offered by legal broadcasters. But for pirates determined never to pay for anything, free alternatives are also available. They tend to be unreliable but can indeed offer a full subscription-like service for zero cost, albeit for limited periods.
Sports leagues and broadcasters such as Premier League and beIN would like to see both disappear for good, a position shared by anti-piracy coalition IBCAP and its partners operating in the same field – ACE, MPA, AAPA, and AVIA, for example.
Lists of services causing specific problems were recently outlined in submissions to the US government. Whether they will be branded ‘notorious markets’ remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to see which platforms could face unexpected pressure in the months and years to come.
Note: Text in italics represents direct quotes from submissions
Premier League: Free Streaming Sites
Premium IPTV providers are all causing problems for Premier League but a number of its recommendations focus on free streaming platforms, most with no barriers to entry.
Lalastreams / istream2watch.com (Germany)
Lalastreams / istream2watch.com is a family of Streaming Websites that have amassed almost 60 million global visits so far in 2022. Approximately 20 domains redirect to istream2watch.com.
As Premier League points out, there’s certainly no shortage of redirecting domains; alastreams.me, stream2watch.club, stream2watch.one, stream2watch.sx, streamgaroo.com are just a few examples.
The Premier League says that it detected over 1,000 infringing live streams on istream2watch.com over the course of the 2021/2022 season. It also claims to have traced “the likely operator” of the platform to Germany.
Livekoora is an Arabic language Streaming Website that provides links to live football matches from around the world, including the Premier League. The site provides a list of infringing streams for each match, allowing users to select what they want to watch and play the stream within the website.
Livetv.sx – (Cyprus/Kazakhstan/Russia)
Livetv.sx is a Streaming Website that has historically operated through multiple domains to provide an index of links to live streams of a very broad range of sports events, including live Matches.
According to a Premier League investigation, Livetv.sx has received 125 million visits from its global audience in 2022 alone. The football league also reveals that despite “successful” legal proceedings brought by other rightsholders, the site continues its operations.
Soccerstreams / Weakstreams (Egypt)
Soccerstreams was originally a sub-thread on the Reddit platform which had attracted over 400,000 subscribers. Following pressure by a number of legitimate content owners, including the Premier League, the thread was suspended by Reddit in January 2019.
Shortly afterwards, however, a website with the same brand name appeared, claiming to be ‘by the founders of /r/SoccerStreams’.
Traffic today appears to be down about three million visits per month but the Premier League believes that Weakstreams.com is potentially linked since it drives traffic to SoccerStreams. Overall, it estimates that the domains have pulled in 230 million visits to date in 2022.
Totalsportek12 is a major pirate sports Streaming Website that provides links to multiple live sporting events. The site does not post links until about an hour before each live football match starts and when it does, it provides an index of up to 40 links.
The site attracted over 150 million global visits in the last year (October 2021 – September 2022). The Premier League believes that this website is operated by an individual in Poland.
Premier League: Premium IPTV Providers
BestBuyIPTV is already listed by the USTR as a ‘notorious market’. The Premier League claims that the service carries channels from all over the globe, including those carrying Premier League content. Following an investigation, the Premier League says it has located the operator of the service in Vietnam.
That doesn’t appear to have affected the service’s availability, however. BestBuyIPTV is happy to sell subscriptions to the public ($70 per year/7300 channels/9600 VOD titles), resellers, and restreamers alike.
Free M3U IPTV Playlists
Earlier this year the Premier League complained to the European Commission about so-called “Open Web Piracy”, i.e freely accessible content available on the web without users having to pay anything.
In their joint submission to the USTR, sports broadcaster beIN and Miramax (which the former controls) list a large number of IPTV-related services that have mostly been covered in one form or another. However, the companies also draw attention to what they say is a “serious and rapidly growing problem.”
Players in the IPTV system that provide rather than consume content, often have access to management dashboards. Known simply as ‘panels’, these interfaces allow for the distribution of IPTV channels and chosen access controls. They can also generate ‘playlists’ in the form of small, portable text files, usually in .M3U format.
These files are appearing online more than ever before, and since they often carry login credentials, access to pirate IPTV platforms becomes essentially free. They can be opened in software such as VLC but unlike torrent files, playlists can be remotely disabled at any moment.
Playlists are quick and cheap, but despite being unreliable too, beIN would like those who distribute them to be labeled as ‘notorious’ when the USTR publishes its report.
These temporary playlists have, in recent years, been distributed online by a number of sources.This has become a very popular means to access pirate sports content, in particular, given that the playlists are available shortly before games commence. Some of the fora dedicated to sharing these illegal IPTV playlists, and which are notorious for piracy, include:
Finally, it’s interesting to see which sites and services are nominated for action but at the same time, some extremely big platforms are not put forward by rightsholders at all. It seems unlikely that they’re unaware of their existence, so that raises the question of why they’re absent from the list.
Information like that isn’t made public, but since submissions are, perhaps it’s a case of not rocking the boat during sensitive periods or simply waiting until the time is right.
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