How to Detect Pirated Streaming Services

We get asked all the time –

“I recently saw a friend post on social media claiming I can get tv channels, Netflix and HBO shows, and more for $20/month from this guy at a flea market. Is this legitimate?”

The cost of tv networks has dramatically increased cable and satellite bills over the years, which often leads consumers to take desperate actions. They are often drawn to vendors who sell devices and services that offer popular content at a lower cost, or sometimes for free with the purchase of a special app, without having to buy subscriptions from the original providers. The offer sounds great, however, buyer beware of these services because most likely it is a pirated service. Let’s take a deeper dive into how you can detect these pirated services.

What’s Wrong With These Services?

These services are pirated sources. This means these providers are illegally downloading and sharing the content they provide without the permission of the networks. The pirated streaming service provider will eventually get caught, shut down, and prosecuted. The networks can also take opportunities to make examples of users in the interest of curbing others from going this route.

You get what you pay for. When you purchase service from the content owner, such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTubeTV, HBO, or whoever, they have end to end quality control because you’re paying for it. They purchase massive amounts of bandwidth, and they set up regional caching servers to ensure you get the best quality stream wherever you are located. With a pirated provider there is nothing set up this way, and often these go through back channels and VPN connections to keep from getting caught, which overload and bottleneck at any point between the source and your device.

How Do I Know If This Is Piracy?

  1. If the cost is too good to be true – it probably is! Stay away from flea market booths and social media pages that promise something like $20/mo or $200 one time and you can get EVERYTHING. The content they offer costs much more than that for permission to rebroadcast.
  2. They offer shows that are exclusive to one platform. Netflix shows are exclusive to Netflix’s platform. You can’t watch Ozark on someone’s special server.
  3. If you have to “jailbreak” a device to make it work, or it’s on a device you’ve never heard of or seen in stores. To get around security and legal content providers authentication, these vendors often need to jailbreak your streaming device to access unofficial streaming sources, or they’ll use hacked streaming boxes with custom firmware on them.

At Broadlinc, we believe in providing open internet (see our network management disclosure at, and thereby we treat all data the same. If YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix works but bobscheaptvapp streaming Game of Thrones for free doesn’t, then the problem isn’t with Broadlinc service but instead with the pirated service. Therefore, we can’t offer support for this issue.

If you’re going to go with a streaming provider for your tv service, we encourage you to do your research and avoid such services. Look for reviews of official service providers because most of their rates will be similar, and they often can bundle subscriptions to premium services so you’re paying one bill. You will have access to technical support and it’s all legal! For a list of legal streaming content providers, check out


Written By TJ Scott, VP of Operations