Hey friend! If you‘re like me and love streaming TV through services like IPTV, you need to pay attention to the major lawsuit in the news right now. DISH Network and Sling TV are going after IPTV provider VNest for allegedly distributing their channels illegally. This legal battle could change the landscape for cord cutters looking to replace cable.
Let me break down exactly what‘s going on and what it means for your streaming options going forward.
A Quick IPTV 101
First, a quick IPTV overview for anyone unfamiliar with how these services work.
IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. As the name suggests, it uses internet connections rather than cables or satellites to deliver live TV channels.
Here are a few fast facts on the explosive growth of IPTV:
Global IPTV market expected to reach $117 billion by 2027, up from just $42 billion in 2019.
Number of worldwide IPTV subscribers grew 56% from 2016 to 2021, from 53 million to 83 million.
Top regions for IPTV include North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
The technology allows providers to stream hundreds or even thousands of live channels over the internet to connected devices like Fire TV Sticks, phones, smart TVs, etc.
For consumers, switching to IPTV offers major perks compared to bloated and expensive cable packages:
Cost savings – IPTV services typically range from $10-$50 per month, much less than the $100+ for cable.
Flexibility – IPTV works on any device with an internet connection, so you can stream wherever.
No contracts – Most IPTV providers allow month-to-month plans with no long-term commitments.
Given those advantages, it‘s easy to see the appeal of "cutting the cord" with cable and switching to more affordable IPTV options.
Introducing VNest IPTV
One of the IPTV services that was building a big following before getting hit with this lawsuit was VNest.
VNest marketed itself as an premium IPTV provider, offering over 5,000 live TV channels spanning movies, sports, news, kids shows, and more.
The service launched in mid-2021 and seemed to gain thousands of subscribers quickly. According to their website, VNest had major channel suppliers including:
Pluto TV – For 100+ free live TV channels
Redbox – Streaming movie and TV catalog
Xumo – Another free streaming TV provider
SportsAccess – Live sports streaming service
This gave them an impressive lineup of content. VNest subscriptions started at just $20 per month – a steal compared to traditional pay TV.
Users could stream VNest on media players like Firestick and Apple TV or mobile apps for iOS and Android. The service aimed to make cutting the cord extremely affordable and easy.
The DISH Lawsuit Hits VNest Hard
VNest‘s rapid growth caught the attention of major media company DISH Network and their streaming TV service Sling.
In October 2021, DISH and Sling sent VNest a cease-and-desist letter accusing them of capturing live DISH and Sling streams illegally and rebroadcasting them to VNest subscribers.
After being ignored, DISH and Sling finally filed a lawsuit on July 18th, 2022 in Nevada district court – where VNest owner Santina Fulton resides.
The lawsuit alleges VNest:
Violated the Federal Communications Act by retransmitting DISH/Sling content without consent.
Broke Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) rules around unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material.
Specifically, DISH claimed:
"DISH Programming and Sling Programming has been retransmitted to users of Defendants’ VNest TV service without Plaintiffs’ authorization, thereby allowing VNest TV users to receive such programming without paying the requisite subscription fee to DISH or Sling.”
Shortly after being sued, the VNest website suddenly went offline and remains unavailable – indicating they have ceased operations for now.
The Latest in a String of IPTV Lawsuits
This legal attack on VNest is just the latest in a series of lawsuits broadcasters have filed against IPTV providers:
In 2021, DISH Network sued IPGuys and won $14,000 in damages for illegally streaming copyrighted content.
Also last year, Universe IPTV had to pay over $7 million to DISH for unauthorized distribution of live TV channels.
Popular Indian-focused IPTV provider ChitramTV faced a lawsuit from DISH as well.
Nitro TV, another major IPTV service, is also in the midst of legal action related to allegations of pirating live DISH channels.
|2021||DISH Network||Universe IPTV||$7 million|
|2022||DISH Network||Nitro TV||TBD|
It‘s clear that major media companies are aggressively pursuing legal options to protect their content rights as IPTV continues exploding.
This table summarizes some major recent lawsuits against IPTV providers:
The concern for consumers here is losing access to affordable live TV options as services like VNest shut down under legal pressure.
So what can cord cutters relying on IPTV do going forward? Let‘s explore some legitimate alternatives.
What Are the Alternatives for Streaming Live TV?
If you were a VNest subscriber displaced by this lawsuit, you now need to find a new (legal) home for streaming live TV channels. Here are some excellent options to consider:
Live TV Streaming Services
While more expensive than IPTV, these cable alternatives from major brands offer solid channel lineups and features without piracy risk:
|Sling TV||$35+||ESPN, CNN, AMC, History||Low cost
Lots of customization
|No local channels|
|YouTube TV||$65||CBS, NBC, ESPN, MTV||Unlimited DVR||Pricier|
|Hulu Live||$70||ABC, Fox, ESPN, FX||Includes Hulu on-demand||Add-ons cost extra|
|DirecTV Stream||$70+||CBS, Fox, NFL Network||Lots of regional sports||Contract required|
These services offer the closest experience to replicating a full cable package. While more expensive than IPTV, they still save $30-$50 per month compared to traditional pay TV.
Free Streaming Apps
You can supplement live TV streaming with excellent free on-demand apps like:
- Tubi – Movie and TV catalogue
- Pluto TV – Live and on-demand channels
- The Roku Channel – Huge on-demand library
- Xumo – Live and on-demand shows
When you combine free options like these with an antenna for local broadcasts, you can build an affordable cord cutting package. It just requires more mixing and matching vs the simplicity of IPTV.
The Future of IPTV Remains Uncertain
It‘s unclear right now what the future holds for IPTV in light of the crackdown from DISH and other broadcasters. I expect providers will try new strategies to avoid legal heat:
Shift operations overseas
Lean harder into user anonymity tools like VPNs
Only use legal public domain content
But those changes would also degrade the IPTV experience consumers are used to.
The bottom line is accessing pirated streams always carries risks. As quality legal alternatives like Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Roku keep improving, IPTV provides less upside for that danger.
The Takeaway – Embrace the New World of Streaming TV!
Losing VNest is an adjustment for former subscribers, but thankfully we have amazing options to continue cutting the cord in 2022. Between live TV streaming services and free on-demand apps, you can replicate that premium channel experience at a fraction of the cost of cable.
I know exploring new technology can be confusing, but I‘m here to help! Let me know if you have any other questions navigating this changing TV landscape. I‘d be happy to share more tips and recommendations for getting the most out of streaming.
Stay tuned here or subscribe to my newsletter for more updates on the lawsuit situation and everything streaming TV. Let‘s embrace the new world of entertainment together!