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Helix IPTV: A prime example of grey-zone IPTV

At current rates, it’s possible that regular broadcast TV will become a thing of the past as younger generations turn towards streaming services. As it stands, video on demand (VoD) platforms can replace regular broadcast TV in almost all cases, with the exception of news coverage and major events, like Premier League football games or concerts. That said, such events are easily viewed on legal streaming providers like Sling TV, Hulu or YouTube TV, which is putting a significant dent in the market for traditional cable or satellite providers. Nonetheless, gaps in the market remain. The streaming market is still fragmented, leaving consumers with substantial unmet demands, giving rise to (potentially) illegal IPTV services like Helix IPTV.

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Helix IPTV’s dubious legal status

Helix IPTV was a pirate IPTV service that allowed users access to more than 4,000 channels and 10,000 VoD services from around the world. By bringing together thousands of channels, the platform unified content making it cheaper and easier for users to navigate. Whether or not using service is legal or not from a customer standpoint is somewhat of a grey area; as the customer isn’t downloading or distributing copyrighted content, it’s unclear as to the service’s legality. Hence, from a customer point of view, it could be seen as less problematic to access the content, or indeed, pay for it compared to old fashioned peer-to-peer download. Thus – although the platform sits in a legal grey area – there is no doubt that the reason consumers continue to turn to the service is that it fulfils a demand. 

How Helix IPTV unified content

Currently, there are no unified video streaming platforms. Although Netflix certainly dominates with 167 million subscribers worldwide, other large providers like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney and YouTube TV still hold a respectable market share with exclusive content. Plus, with new streaming platforms or pay-per-view programmes emerging all the time, the market is becoming increasingly crowded.

True enough, some broadcasters have tried to consolidate their content by bowing out of deals with Netflix and other big OTT providers. Take HBO as an example; the channel tried to simplify their experience by removing content from Netflix and offering their own subscription. However, this has the opposite effect, merely creating another provider in an already crowded field. Thus, if consumers want to excess a variety of content they need to subscribe to more services, which all come at a cost. In light of this, it’s no wonder Helix IPTV and other illegal IPTV providers has becomes attractive – it consolidated content and reduces the cost for the consumer.

Eliminating geographical restrictions

Most VoD services come with the promise of accessing content when you want, where you want it – however, in practice, this isn’t necessarily the truth. Besides the content being divided over multiple providers, geography also plays a critical role due to specific content rights. For instance, Premier League broadcasting rights are divided depending on countries. Equally, most Netflix subscribers have noted that the available content changes from country to country. 

We live in a globalised, connected world, where people travel all the time. Most subscribers agree it’s frustrating when you’re travelling for business or going on holiday that you can’t catch up with your favourite TV shows or watch your local football derby – especially when you’ve paid for the service. In the past, uses have been able to use a VPN to “relocate” your IP address to your home country, but streaming services are becoming increasingly savvy about blocking these tactics. Thus, once again we have a situation where Helix IPTV meet consumer demand. By enabling international streaming, consumers are easily persuaded away from big providers to illegal online broadcasting services.

Lessons from the music industry

So, how can television providers encourage customers to resist the lure of services like Helix IPTV, and indeed, meet their demands? For inspiration, it’s useful to look to the music industry. When it comes to music streaming, services like Spotify or Sound Cloud have been able to combat illegal services relatively effectively. By offering premium and paid versions, they have been able to capture customers that would otherwise turn to illegal services. Moreover, they have also managed to successfully navigate the whims of production companies who strike exclusive deals with particular providers. Thanks to free versions of various services, it’s less problematic for users to subscribe to different platforms.

All this said, there are important distinctions between music and video streaming. Primarily, the questions around legal and illegal music streaming have been around far longer. Although video content is rapidly moving in a similar direction, television has greater questions around exclusivity. Whereas most artists are present across music streaming platforms, broadcasting rights – particularly as they pertain to geography – remain the biggest barrier to a solution in the video streaming space. Therefore, even if providers move to a similar free and premium model, the question of international availability remains. 

Creating an opportunity from a challenge 

Considering the issues explored above, it’s not difficult to see why consumers are attracted to legally dubious services like Helix IPTV. Not only are they cheaper, but ultimately they also provide a better service. Therefore, how can traditional providers hope to overcome this challenge, as has been achieved in the music industry? 

Essentially the answer is twofold; traditional providers need to find solutions to meet consumer demand for simplicity. Whether this achieved by negotiating with producers to unify content in single apps or indeed by lobbying for more modern, internationally-relevant content licensing laws, companies seeking to break into content delivery need to strive to give users what they want.

Second, a weak spot in Helix IPTV and other IPTV provideris its reliability. Hacking remains a problem, meaning that the server can go down quite regularly. To attract consumers away from grey area services, companies need to demonstrate they can provide a more reliable, safe service. Married with closing gaps in the market, companies can face up to the illegal content challenge – and create opportunity from an obstacle. 

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