SmoothStreams, a popular unauthorized IPTV service offering thousands of live TV channels and on-demand content, has been permanently shut down following legal action by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).
This enforcement campaign involved years of investigation and coordination with Canadian authorities to build a case against SmoothStreams‘ alleged operators. It represents a major victory for ACE as the organization continues its global crackdown on streaming piracy services.
But for SmoothStreams‘ dedicated user base, it closes off a major access point for affordable live sports, movies, and TV shows. The takedown exemplifies the mounting legal risks facing consumers who access unlicensed streaming content and services.
The Swift Rise and Fall of SmoothStreams IPTV
Founded in 2014, SmoothStreams capitalized on surging interest in live TV delivered over internet connections. At its peak, the service boasted an extensive lineup of over 2,800 live high definition channels covering sports, news, movies, and popular cable networks.
Compared to authorized virtual TV providers, SmoothStreams undercut pricing while exceeding content selection. Accounts reportedly started at just $10 per month – a tiny fraction of licensed alternatives.
This compelling value proposition attracted thousands of devoted subscribers. But SmoothStreams failed to properly license the content from owners and broadcasters. Lacking these agreements, SmoothStreams violated broadcaster copyright protections across this wealth of content.
According to TorrentFreak, SmoothStreams and affiliated sites including Live247.tv and StreamTVNow.tv have been permanently shut down. The service‘s social media accounts and messaging channels have gone silent since July 2022.
SmoothStreams and other gray-market IPTV providers promise users unlimited on-demand shows, premium sports packages, and expanded channel lineups. But behind the scenes, the services operate on murky legal footing by sourcing unlicensed streams. As rights holders assert their claims, these services struggle to survive.
ACE Targets SmoothStreams in Latest Enforcement Action
The demise of SmoothStreams follows legal action pursued by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – a coalition of prominent entertainment companies and associations.
ACE‘s members include powerhouses like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, the Motion Picture Association, and major sports leagues. Formed in 2017, ACE coordinates legal and technological actions against large-scale piracy operations.
The group has worked with law enforcement agencies around the world to pursue website blocking, shutdowns, seizures, arrests, and other anti-piracy measures. Major successes include:
- Leading takedowns of piracy sites like 123movies, YTS, and Fmovies with millions of monthly visitors.
- Targeting unauthorized sports streaming on Twitch and European services.
- Forcing shutdowns of IPTV providers like Nitro TV and Gears TV in North America.
- Compelling major CDNs and hosting providers to drop support for infringing sites.
- Promoting site blocking by ISPs and discovery blocking by search engines.
- Disrupting infrastructure and ad revenue used by pirate services.
For ACE members and media partners, SmoothStreams represented an IPTV operation raking in subscriptions and benefiting from their unlicensed content. After years of tracking the service, ACE moved to shut it down for good.
Closing SmoothStreams Through Legal and Technological Actions
ACE partnered with a coalition of Canadian media companies to build a legal case against SmoothStreams over four years of operations. Extensive monitoring traced illegal distribution of content back to the service.
In June 2022, the coalition filed legal statements naming two Ontario residents – Marshall and Antonio Macciacchera – as controlling the SmoothStreams service.
Forensic investigations uncovered various SmoothStreams domains registered to the pair including smoothstreams.tv, live247.tv, streamtvnow.tv, and starstreams.tv.
The ACE-led plaintiffs presented evidence that the defendants were unlawfully capturing and redistributing copyrighted material through SmoothStreams. Financial records also revealed the service generating lucrative subscription revenues in this period.
Early enforcement efforts failed to entirely halt SmoothStreams. According to TorrentFreak, officials raided and seized streaming equipment across two Canadian locations tied to the service. However, some streams continued even after this initial hardware seizure.
But the sustained legal campaign satisfied requirements for an injunction against the SmoothStreams operators. This court order compelled Marshall and Antonio Macciacchera to permanently cease operations under legal threat.
Left with no means to access or distribute content, SmoothStreams had no option but to fold – cutting off access to all its users.
Industry Groups Claim Progress While Streamers Lament Loss of Access
For streamers that came to depend on SmoothStreams‘ combination of affordability, breadth, and accessibility, the shutdown represents a major disruption. But entertainment industry associations frame it as an important step toward fair digital markets.
"Services like SmoothStreams harm consumers by offering pirated materials and harm creators by deny them fair compensation," said Motion Picture Association CEO Charles Rivkin. "This enforcement action shows our commitment to protecting creativity and charting a path for lawful digital growth."
Yet some former SmoothStreams subscribers feel their flexible viewing options are being constrained against their interests. "Streaming was finally at a place where we could get all the sports and shows we wanted without expensive cable TV," an anonymous Reddit commenter wrote. "Now we‘re being driven back to fragmented, overpriced services just so media giants can squeeze out more profits."
This divide between media access and ownership continues driving conflicts as home and mobile entertainment becomes increasingly global and digital. Outcomes stand to impact worldwide streaming developments for years to come.
In place of unauthorized services like SmoothStreams, consumers still have multiple options for accessing top movies, shows, and sports legally:
All-in-one skinny bundle services like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, fuboTV, or Sling TV offer popular sports and entertainment for $40-70 per month. While limited compared to SmoothStreams, their channel lineups capture most essentials for many viewers.
Sports subscriptions like NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, and MLB.TV grant access to live games outside local broadcasts and home teams. Prices range from $100-300 per season.
On-demand platforms like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue expanding their content libraries with big-name originals, nostalgic classics, and current hit shows. Plans start around $5-10 per month.
Completely free, ad-supported services like Pluto TV, Tubi, and Freevee showcase movies, TV series, and some live content without subscriptions.
Renting and purchasing movies or shows à la carte through transactional platforms – iTunes, Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu – provides pay-per-title access.
Using an antenna for access to network broadcast stations and local programming.
Skinny bundles have room for improvement, but their core offerings continue attracting millions of subscribers abandoning traditional pay TV. Sports leagues also pursue direct-to-consumer access through official packages.
And on the illegal side, SmoothStreams‘ demise hasn‘t eliminated piracy utilities like Kodi and its many add-ons. But sustaining large-scale rogue streaming services long-term appears increasingly difficult amid legal actions.
Former SmoothStreams users have an opportunity evaluating alternatives to incorporate into their viewing habits on both licensed and unlicensed fronts. Striking the right balance promises to remain an evolving, individualized decision.