Over the past several years, third-party Kodi add-ons have given many Internet users a new enthusiasm for streaming live TV.
For many, the next logical step was to upgrade to a premium provider of IPTV services. For a relatively small fee, these platforms grant access to hundreds and often thousands of live channels at a fraction of the official cost.
Needless to say, few – if any – of these providers have the necessary licensing in place to conduct their business legally.
While a few prominent names have risen to the top of the pile, without doubt one of the most well-known brands is Vader. Notable for its Darth Vader logo (of which dozens of variants exist online), Vader has long been the go-to choice for IPTV fans. Now, however, the ride appears to be over.
For the past couple of days, online chatter has suggested that Vader might be about to throw in the towel. A few hours ago, that was confirmed on the service’s Telegram channel with an official announcement that Vader would be shutting down.
“We have no choice but to close down Vader. We can’t reveal much publically, but by now some of you should know through the other means what happened,” the notice begins.
“We tried everything in our power to avoid this, to avoid any outage, but enough people worked against us.”
Being a customer of a service like Vader is not like dealing with HBO or Netflix, so those expecting a clear and definitive explanation for why the service has disappeared will be disappointed. The fact that something “happened” isn’t really up for dispute but precisely what that was remains open to speculation.
TorrentFreak has received as-yet unconfirmed reports that Vader is currently the subject of an anti-piracy investigation, complicated by the departure of a member of staff a while back. We’ll seek comment from the anti-piracy group implicated before elaborating further.
The notion that Vader is on the radar of content companies will come as a surprise to absolutely no one. In addition to its live TV offering, Vader also offered catchup and many movies on demand, which was understandably problematic for the provider from a Hollywood perspective.
It’s fairly obvious that Vader was under pressure and that they feared negative consequences from continuing. However, the service has taken the time to reassure customers of all kinds that they will do their best to protect them.
“We’re going to make sure, no Email, IP, account + reseller name goes to the wrong hands. Everything will be wiped clean and that’s all,” the service’s statement adds, without further detail.
Anyone Googling the name Vader and IPTV will find themselves confronted with a dazzling array of sites that claim to be Vader. However, many of these sites are operated by “re-sellers”. These people generally have access to a ‘panel’ operated by the official Vader service which provides tools for them to offer the product to the public, while earning a profit.
Several sources indicate that these panels are no longer available. This claim is supported when accessing many of the sites that act as Vader re-sellers, whose pages dedicated to the product now invariably return 404 “Not Found” errors or divert to offerings from other providers.
This in itself is a big issue for those re-sellers. First of all, paying up front for Vader services probably means that they will lose money. Quite how much will depend on the scale of the re-seller but Vader is appealing for them not to pursue their losses.
“I understand a lot of clients will be pissed and will dispute [try to claim the money back from the source from which it was paid]. We would appreciate if everyone would take the financial losses we are all going to take, as resellers and direct sellers. But we will also understand people who will want [their] money back,” Vader adds.
The fact that Vader has shut down will send decent-sized ripples across much of the IPTV space. Of course, those behind the service and their re-sellers will take a hit, but everyone who subscribed to the platform faces losing their money too.
Former customers could try claiming the money back from their re-seller but there are already signs that some are seeking to shift their clients to alternative providers. Some are making noises about doing this for free but it’s possible that other re-sellers will head for the hills.
This is the downside of dealing with IPTV providers and/or re-sellers. The product is essentially a bargain but is subject to termination at any moment. It’s therefore often accepted that anyone who signs up should make peace with losing their money right from the start but be grateful when any service works as planned.
Signing off, the operators of Vader wish their former customers and re-sellers well. “May you find a new and welcoming home!” they conclude.
The big question now is how prepared other providers are for the influx of new subscribers. It’s not clear how close to capacity the current wave of big providers are operating, or have many subscribers Vaders had, so there could be service issues moving forward.