IPTV Bust: 900,000 Users Lose Access To Premier League

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A popular, illegal IPTV service that had more than 900,000 customers around the world – including Europe and the UK –  was dramatically taken down by Vietnamese authorities this month.

Operating out of Hanoi, “BestBuy IPTV” was a household name among many football fans seeking cheap access to Premier League matches.

For just £40 a year, subscribers could tap into over 10,000 channels from around the globe, streaming everything from sports to blockbuster movies and TV shows.

The crackdown culminated with the service’s owner, Le Hai Nam, receiving a suspended 30-month jail sentence. He was also ordered to pay fines and restitution totalling over £21,000.

When Is IPTV Illegal?

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is the technology behind streaming services that deliver television content over the internet, bypassing traditional broadcasting methods like satellite or over-the-air.

IPTV on a laptop

Therefore, all streaming services operate via IPTV – Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, etc. Those IPTV-based services are of course legal, and are paying the necessary royalties to content providers.

However, many illegal services also present themselves as “IPTV”, and the term has unfortunately become synonymous with those services that occasionally pop up online, and are available either via websites or on “jailbroken” streaming devices.

Illegal IPTV sites and apps offer streaming services without the proper licensing, often providing access to premium content for free or at a significantly reduced cost.

The Fall Of BestBuy IPTV

The arrest of Le Hai Nam in Vietnam marks a dramatic chapter in the story of BestBuy IPTV, a service notorious for its extensive illegal streaming capabilities, particularly of popular (and otherwise expensive) content like the Premier League.

Premier League logo on phone
Premier League logo (Photo: Deposit Photos)

The long-running IPTV service, which operated out of Hanoi, was not just a local enterprise but a global network providing thousands of channels from around the world to a vast audience, including a significant number in Europe.

According to a report published in 2023 by the US Trade Representative, “BestBuy IPTV offers illicit IPTV channels from broadcasters globally, and it is compatible with most platforms and operating systems.”

For just £40 a year ($49.99), subscribers could access over 10,000 premium channels from 38 countries, including the highly coveted Premier League games.

Nam’s enterprise catered to over 900,000 users, employed 12,000 resellers, and engaged 2,000 re-streamers around the world, demonstrating the vast scale of the operation.

Watching football on smartphone phone

The Premier League and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) took a particular interest in Nam’s activities, given the substantial impact on copyright holders and the broadcasting revenues from one of the world’s most watched sports leagues.

On April 19, 2024, the People’s Court of Hanoi delivered a historic verdict in the case against Le Hai Nam, the operator behind BestBuy IPTV.

In a decisive ruling, Nam was handed a suspended sentence of 30 months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of online copyright infringement.

Additionally, the court ordered Nam to pay a fine and restitution totalling approximately £3,100, and more than £18,500 in illegal profits was confiscated and allocated to bolster public funding.

Computer hacker arrested handcuffs
Illustrative Photo

The Premier League’s General Counsel, Kevin Plumb, emphasized the broader implications of this case, stating, “This result should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in the illegal supply of Premier League streams in Vietnam.”

Recent IPTV Crackdowns in the UK: A Continuing Battle

While BestBuy IPTV was operated from Vietnam, the service was reportedly popular in Europe and the UK – where several high-profile IPTV arrests recently took place.

The £1 Million Firestick Premier League Scheme

One of the most significant recent cases involved Steven Mills from Shrewsbury, who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

His operation, which amassed £1 million over five years, leveraged custom apps on Amazon’s Fire TV devices to illegally stream Premier League matches to over 30,000 subscribers. 

Fire TV Stick 4K 2nd Gen in hand

The £800,000 Sky TV Streaming Scheme

Another major case was the dismantling of an £800,000 illegal IPTV operation that provided unauthorised access to Sky TV packages.

Orchestrated by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), this operation led to the arrest of two individuals and the seizure of a significant amount of cash, along with custom streaming devices. 

Illegal IPTV evidence
Confiscated Devices (Photo: Regional Organised Crime Unit)

The Firestick Raids

In a robust crackdown on illegal IPTV services, the City of London Police launched a nationwide operation targeting the distribution of “jailbroken” Firesticks.

These devices allowed unauthorized access to premium content, including live Premier League matches.

The sweep led to one arrest and interviews under caution for 10 other individuals across various UK regions, from Portsmouth to Leeds and extending into Wales. 

Police arresting man at the door
Illustrative Photo

Spotting Illegal IPTV Services

With so many streaming services popping up these days, readers often ask me how to identify the illegal ones. Here are a few red flags:

Pricing Too Good To Be True: If the service costs significantly less than comparable legal services, then it’s probably too good to be true (sorry, you can’t legally get every Premier League match for £5, or all the recent blockbusters for a quid).

Dodgy Website Quality: Look for poor design, spelling mistakes, and a general lack of professionalism.

Suspicious Payment Methods: Unusual payment methods like cryptocurrencies or gift cards are common in illegal services.

Remember that using these types of IPTV services is not just illegal but can also put you at risk of getting malware or falling for financial fraud.

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