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UKTVEverywhere, an IPTV service that broadcasts British TV channels globally, has reached a closing settlement with the BBC and ITV. After being given a stellar platform by business tycoon Lord Sugar and outspoken broadcaster Piers Morgan, the domain of UKTVEverywhere is now in the hands of Britbox, the digital subscription service owned by the BBC and ITV.
When UK nationals move abroad, they often report losing the essential things they take for granted back home. Colman’s mustard, Yorkshire tea, Cadbury chocolate, Kellogg’s cornflakes and Marmite are mentioned, but entertaining is often high on the list too.
Brits are famous for their love of soap, including Eastenders and Coronation Street, for example. Moving abroad often means missing out on those comforts of home, but for many years ex-pats have found ways to access these shows abroad, with many turning to various IPTV services to get their fix.
UKTVEverywhere – endorsed by the rich and the unfaithful
One service created to scratch this particular itch was US-based UKTVEverywhere. The service offered a long list of UK TV channels which it normally covered on home soil with a normal TV licence. However, by picking up these signals in the UK and broadcasting them around the world, the service has become popular with viewers abroad, including some high-profile celebrities.
For example, business tycoon and upstart star Lord Sugar (Alan Sugar) would regularly take to Twitter to reveal that he was enjoying UKTVEverywhere’s services while living in the US. There was no clear sign that he was being paid for endorsements but on more than one occasion the entrepreneur has promoted the IPTV platform.
Catch up on Easter Day http://t.co/rd74p6UO5c The writers need to get Alfie and Kat back into victimhood, the new cast is a complete joke.
– Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) January 2, 2014
Similar flattering comments were also tweeted by broadcaster and outspoken journalist Piers Morgan, who said he was using UKTVEverywhere to watch a British football show in the US and highly recommended the service to “all Brits living abroad”.
About to watch #ball_ball in New York using @employee – an amazing device, highly recommended to all Brits living abroad.
– Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 9, 2013
But in spite of that Possible Free plugs from the rich and famous, UKTVEverywhere have been working on lost time. Many of the shows airing on these channels are owned by divisions of two of the broadcasters – BBC and ITV – and it seems they weren’t happy with the IPTV service making money off their programmes.
The disappearance of BBC and ITV: the beginning of the end
After previously indicating that displaying their logos raised trademark issues, UKTVEverywhere announced several months ago that it would stop offering channels from the BBC and ITV. They were not the only channels offered by the IPTV provider but due to the target audience, this means that big series and other popular titles such as Doctor Who and Love Island will no longer be available.
Without those, former sponsors are unlikely to favor the service and it certainly eventually disappeared leaving subscribers high and dry with no refunds reportedly being issued.
As many had expected, the discontinuation of the service has been linked to legal action by BBC Studios and ITV, a fact they have now confirmed message on the home page of the site.
“This domain name has been transferred to the BBC and ITV to settle their copyright dispute against its previous owner,” the text reads.
BBC One, BBC Two and BBC iPlayer as well as ITV and ITV Hub are not legally available outside the UK. Distributing, publicly performing, or reproducing content on these channels is copyright infringement, without the consent of the respective copyright holders, or to induce such infringement. “
Joint statement from BBC and ITV Putting More Meat to Bones.
“As producers and distributors of premium content, we have the right and obligation to take action against piracy, in accordance with the relevant laws in the territories in which we operate. Ensuring that our content is shown legally, equally ensures that we will be able to bring our viewers the programs they love and expect.” As the companies say.
BBC Studios and ITV each produce thousands of hours of quality British programmes, which in turn provide vital employment opportunities for writers, producers, actors and crew. Illegal broadcasting of this content means depriving a wide range of workers of their rightful earnings.”
BritBox: A new domain owner who’s standing by doing business
An examination of the domain’s WHOIS records reveals that the UKTVEverywhere.com domain is now owned by Denipurna Limited, a company associated with the BBC and ITV BritBox streaming service. After launching in the US during 2017, BritBox has subsequently launched in Canada and then the UK, with an Australian release penned for 2020.
Given that BritBox delivers episodes of national favorites like EastEnders and Coronation Street within hours of airing in the UK, it’s clear why the BBC and ITV wanted to take UKTVEverywhere out of the market, a short-term task that has now been accomplished.
However, there are dozens of other platforms offering similar services, including several major “pirate” IPTV suppliers, so the job is not over yet, not far off.