In one of the biggest international law enforcement actions in recent years, involving several European countries, more than 800.000 users had their Xtream Codes account blocked. But the battle against IPTVs and IPTV panels is not over. Just a few hours later, because of swift updates and a simple code sent via WhatsApp, everyone was back online. Just in time for streaming the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore. But what are IPTVs? And what is Xtream Codes?

What is IPTV?

IPTV stands for “Internet Protocol TeleVision”. For many it’s the future of how television will be consumed. As of now, TV broadcasters simply send out a signal that is then interpreted with an antenna. This is true for cable and satellite TV. Since the signal is not modifiable by any means, you cannot dictate what to watch and when. You can only tune in when your favorite TV show or movie is on and that’s it.

With IPTV, all data will pass through your Internet connection. This allows most IPTVs to create an on-demand service, such as the BBC iPlayer. With IPTV, you can watch your favorite programming whenever you want. Often, you can watch it up to 1 year after the original broadcast.

IPTV is not in and of itself illegal. As we mentioned, the BBC iPlayer is one example of a free, 100% legal service that allows you to watch what’s on TV “on demand”. And there are many other examples of local streaming services that use IPTV as a means to broadcast content to the end user. Now, what makes these IPTVs legal? The fact that they own the rights to broadcast the TV series and movies within their catalog!

Some companies decide to go the other way and stream TV series and shows without the rights to do so. That’s why illegal IPTVs have an outstandingly low cost. Xtream Codes is not an IPTV in itself. It’s rather a panel that allows streamers to manage their IPTVs. This means that Xtream Codes can host several IPTVs, some of which may be legal and some of which may be not.

Xtream Codes logo

What is Xtream Codes?

Xtream Codes is an IPTV panel that allows its users to stream and consume IPTVs. By connecting to illegal IPTVs, many individuals were able to watch content from multiple international and local streaming services with a monthly subscription of just € 12.00 (USD 13.20).

Mind you, this is not the same as using a VPN to unlock global content on the fly. Using an illegal IPTV is like taking the bus without paying for the ticket. All streaming services run on money and need it to pay for database space, bandwidth, personnel and much more. That’s why penalties can be steep. In Italy, home to many Xtream Codes users, you can be fined to up to € 26.000,00. Not only that, you might end up in jail for 3 to 6 months. This is not unusual legislation and might be the case for your country as well.

The coordinated blitz

On 18th September 2019, the police revealed one of the biggest law enforcement actions in recent years, called “Eclisse” (Eclipse). The purpose of this operation was mainly to take down Xtream Codes while arresting 20 individuals with ties to their scheme. This concerted action took place throughout Europe: in Italy, the Netherlands, France and Bulgaria.

According to the police, they were able to take down 181 servers (mostly in the Netherlands) and seize more than 800.000 accounts. Reuters Italy reported that the biggest illegal platform shut down on Wednesday, dubbed Xtream Codes, had around 50 million users worldwide and that it sold a bundled pay-TV service that included premium content from Comcast’s Sky Italia, Netflix, Mediaset, DAZN, for a monthly subscription of 12 euros. Meanwhile, the fraudsters were making millions. At time of writing, the Xtream Codes IPTV website is down.

A short-lived victory

Reports show that most of the users whose accounts were seized are now back online. Xtream Codes sent updates via Internet that made their platform accessible again. This is one of the main reasons why the police say that the war against illegal IPTVs is far from over.

Users should expect to have their account seized repeatedly. And, if the police see that by taking down servers, these just keep reappearing, they might just turn to the end user. Since using these versions of IPTV is illegal, police might start fining users as a way to discourage their use.

The safer, legal alternative

While using an illegal IPTV might bring a hefty discount, you might end up having to pay a way heftier fine. As a happy medium, VPNs will help you expand the availability of TV shows and movies. What’s more, in some cases, you’ll be able to save money by safely accessing free streaming services.

For example, the British BT Sport closed a deal to stream Champions League (CL) matches on a deal that runs through 2021. (The last police check, the night before the crackdown, showed that in Italy alone 700.000 people were watching the Champions League game.) A lot of games for free and readily available for you to enjoy. Completely legally!

How to stream Champions League with a VPN

Accessing BT Sport cannot be easier. You just need a VPN that is able to circumvent geoblocking for streaming services and that has a server in the UK. Check out our top 10 of VPNs. In any case, tried and true VPNs are NordVPN, 5 Euro VPN and ExpressVPN.

After having signed up to a VPN service, you just need to sign in at BT sport (a subscription is required for some CL games) via browser or use the BT Sport app, and you’ll be ready to enjoy the games!

Conclusion

We know full well that streaming subscription services are a handful. If you want to watch sports, enjoy movies and TV shows, you might end up paying 3-4 subscriptions of more than 10$ each. That’s why you might be tempted to pay for an illegal IPTV service. But we can assure you that the risk is way greater than the reward. With a VPN, however, you’ll be able to unlock most of these services, while saving quite a few bucks and keeping your online activity safe and, more importantly, legal.

Keep up with the latest privacy news on our blog! And we’d love to hear whether you use or have used an IPTV in the past!