Back in 2007, a new online service appeared in the UK. Originally touted as a personal DVR service, TVCatchup quickly gained traction.
Later, however, TVCatchup became an almost live (there was a short delay) streaming service, offering many channels to the public, including those offered by the BBC, ITV, and other broadcasters.
But trouble was never far away for the popular service. Following a legal battle with broadcasters that stretched back more than seven years and traversed UK and EU Courts, in 2017 the European Court of Justice delivered a considerable blow.
The ECJ said that the platform, which claimed to operate legally when it streamed TV content broadcasted by ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, could not rely on legislation that was designed to assist in the development of cable infrastructure decades ago.
That meant that when TVCatchup streamed copyrighted content without permission, that amounted to an unlicensed communication to the public. However, a year earlier TVCatchup Limited had already been dissolved, as confirmed by an October 2016 filing at Companies House.
Many expected the service to immediately shut down but TVCatchup continued via its website and apps downloadable from Google Play and Apple’s App Store. That changed recently when the service appeared to drastically degrade with no announcement from those in charge.
The TVCatchup website currently displays a “Whoops, looks like something went wrong” message but it can still be accessed by adding “8080” to its URL. However, anyone clicking any of the links will be disappointed, as no channels are forthcoming. The same goes for both Apple and Android apps.
The Android app (here) is published by a company listed as Spaceshifting LLC. However, that entity was dissolved back in February 2018. The App Store variant (here) is published by Toyon Investments Ltd, a UK company formed in January 2017.
In December 2018, Toyon Investments was advised that “unless cause is shown to the contrary”, under the Companies Act 2006 it would be struck off the register of companies. On February 26, 2019, Toyon Investments was dissolved.
According to traffic stats provided by SimilarWeb, until the end of March 2019 TVCatchup.com was receiving around two million hits a day. Given the current situation, that isn’t likely to persist for long. However, UK users won’t be left completely high and dry.
Between BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, TVPlayer and other legal streaming apps and services, TVCatchup can be replaced. That wasn’t the case when TVCatchup initially gained traction but times have certainly changed over the past decade.