While it’s believed there are relatively few groups supplying high-level sources for much of the content, many smaller providers plus sellers and resellers are saturating the marketplace, each looking for a piece of what has become a massive market.
The Players Klub
During 2017 or thereabouts, a new brand entered the market with a splash. Labeled The Players Klub (TPK), the service attracted a loyal following with pretty cheap plans (including what appears to have been limited free giveaways) offering a wide range of live TV channels plus a comprehensive movie and TV show VOD platform.
Late 2019, The Players Klub reported ‘changes’ to the service, reporting that it had suffered a “hostile takeover within the business” and as a result would be rebranding under a different name. The new name, ‘TopDog’ (or TPKTopDog) didn’t appear to last long, however.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the change took place but the ‘TopDog’ branding was later changed to ‘Game Masters’ but even that appeared problematic.
According to the service, someone who used to work for the platform (but left under a cloud) was spreading fake information in order to cause trouble. In a tit-for-tat move, the warring parties asked users to report each others’ pages to Facebook for abusive practices.
The Players Klub Declared Dead….
One thing that remained relatively constant (at least through early name changes and disruption which continued until recently) was the ability to acquire TPK/TopDog using various sites under the MintPanel branding.
However, those domains proved themselves to be unreliable, with various options – MintPanel.net, MintPanel.co and MintPanel.digital – all appearing and then dropping out of use, to the apparent frustration of customers.
The sequence of events is muddy, to say the least, but we can confirm without any shadow of a doubt that none of those domains remain in the possession of TPK/TopDog/Game Masters. In fact, they are all under new management at the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which is clearly not a good sign.
Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment
There’s no easy way of knowing when global anti-piracy coalition ACE, with MPA at the helm, started to put pressure on the variously-branded IPTV providers using the MintPanel domains. What we can be sure of, however, is that early this month they changed hands and now sport the ownership details of the MPA.
While MintPanel.net was transferred on September 1, 2020, MintPanel.co took a little longer and was transferred over to Hollywood control four days later, the same day as Mintpanel.digital.
All now show the familiar Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment seizure banner before redirecting users (including prospective and existing customers) to the ACE anti-piracy portal for an unwelcome surprise.
Game Masters IPTV Lives On?
Around three months ago, a long thread developed on Reddit after a Game Masters customer alleged that the IPTV supplier wasn’t providing service after taking payment. The problems appear to have raised their heads after the payment portal used at the time (Gmasterpanel.com) suffered difficulties along with a Discord support channel, that also disappeared.
However, Gmasterpanel.com isn’t in the hands of the MPA/ACE, neither is its alleged replacement Gamers.services. It currently doesn’t seem possible to sign up to Game Masters from that domain itself but according to various reports, the underlying service is working, although who is providing that now is anyone’s guess.
The ACE Juggernaut Rolls On
As reported last week, ACE is currently pressuring Android piracy app TVZion to shut down but that action, like this against TPK/TopDog (and potentially Game Masters), has gone completely unreported by the anti-piracy group.
In fact, just a tiny proportion of ACE actions are made public by the coalition itself, possibly due to confidentiality agreements reached with piracy players but, at least in some instances, because ACE isn’t ready to reveal its achievements in public yet.
Part of the problem, at least potentially, is that some services agree to die then morph into something else.