*Updated For 2018!
I get it. It’s tempting.
I mean…REALLY TEMPTING.
You see dozens of sites screaming that they can deliver stuff like this:
“Experience unlimited entertainment…”
“All the premium channels”
“Hundreds of live sports channels”
“Full HD every time!”
“Access every single PPV event!”
If you’re looking to cut the cable cord and save some of your hard-earned money, they make it sound SO EASY to get all the movies, sports, pay-per-view events and TV shows that you’re used to watching with Cable TV at a fraction of the cost.
But if it sounds too good to be true…
So what aren’t they telling you? What’s the catch?
Stick around and I’ll tell you the stuff they don’t want you to know.
Let’s get clear about something…
To start off, let me get very clear about what I’m talking about.
Paid addons and services aren’t necessarily evil.
That’s not going to make me very popular with many people in the Kodi community or even the open-source community. But it’s a reality of life today. Everyone is in the business of selling something, and I see no problems charging money for your expertise or services…as long as its fair and provides good value for the money.
A good paid add-on or service is something that gives you extra functionality that you wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, if a hardware manufacturer like Logitech or HDHomerun created a premium addon for use with some of their devices to give you extra benefits. On the Plex side of things, each of the Plex player apps has a nominal charge to it, unless you’re a member of Plex Pass.
All that is OK.
What I get fired-up about is when the sellers misrepresent the value to the end user. Many will over-promise based on things they simply cannot control. Worse yet, they may put the customer at risk. That’s pure evil.
What I’m going to talk about here is specifically those paid Kodi\XBMC addons and “premium IPTV subscriptions” that offer to give you access to stuff that you would normally have to shell out a lot of money for.
So what’s the problem?
Here are five things that they don’t want you to know about their paid Kodi addons and IPTV subscriptions. But I’m not just going to tell you what they don’t want you to know, I’m going to tell you why you should care.
1. It’s not easy to setup
Think for a second how easy it is to use your television when you have cable TV.
- Turn on TV
- (optional) Press the Guide button to find a real-time description of what is available to watch
- Enter channel number or scroll through the available channels until you find what you want
For the past eighty years television has been pretty easy to use. I mean, the worst we’ve had to put up with has been fixing the “rabbit ears” to get the right signal or running up to the TV to change the channel by hand.
Using these paid services isn’t easy, and they’re certainly not “set it and forget it.”
Even setting up your cable TV isn’t difficult. Someone comes to your house to install it for you. They are famous for their crappy customer service, but once you have it installed, it generally works without an issue unless there’s an outage affecting your entire area.
Remember the three step setup process above? Simple, right?
Because of their nature, many Kodi addons aren’t going to be in the official Kodi repository. What this means for you is that you’ll need to install them manually.
If you’re a techie, this isn’t a big deal. Admittedly, there are hundreds of YouTube videos telling you how to install the Kodi flavour of the day addon. The paid addons are no exception.
But if you’re not a techie this can be pretty daunting.
Let’s take a look at the installation process of one of the more popular Kodi addons: Exodus. This isn’t a paid add-on, but it will illustrate just how complicated the installation can be if you’re not used to it.
- Turn on your TV and Android box
- Launch Kodi
- Select System and then File Manager
- Select Add Source
- Select None
- Enter the following repository exactly: http://fusion.tvaddons.ag
- Click Done
- Enter a name for the media source.
- Go back to the Kodi home screen
- Select System
- Select Add-Ons
- Select Install from zip file
- Select whatever you named your media source back in step 8
- Select Kodi-repos
- Select your language
- Select repository.exodus-x.x.x.zip
- Wait for the system to enable the add-on
- Select Install from repository
- Select * Exodus Repository*
- Select Video Add-Ons
- Select Exodus
- Select Install
- Wait for the system to enable the add-on
Are you tired yet?
Is this hard? No. Not if you know what you’re doing.
Is it cumbersome? Absolutely!
2. It’s not easy to use
Even if you have something that will set it up for you, you’re not off the hook. You still have more work to do to every time you want to watch TV.
They’re certainly not “set and forget.”
Channel surfing has become the norm. If you want to watch something, you just flipped through the stations until you found what you were looking for. Or better yet, you went to your Channel Guide and which told you exactly what was on every single channel.
Not so in the Kodi world.
It’s funny to me that the same people who complain about having to open a different (official) app to watch different content are the same ones that swear by these complicated add-ons.
Why do I say that?
Think about this. When you turn on your TV, how many options do you have to watch the same show?
Take a look at how many different streams there are for these sporting events. Some of them may work. Some may not. Some may be better quality. Some may be garbage.
Do you really want to spend your TV time looking for something that works and actually looks good?
So why should you care?
If you’re not a techie, or just don’t want to put the effort into constantly tweaking your setup…if you just want it to be simple and easy, then you might want to look at other options.
The bottom line is that watching TV with a paid Kodi addon or a sketchy IPTV subscription service takes a lot of work.
3. They’re almost always illegal
Stay with me here, because this isn’t going where you think it is.
This isn’t about me taking some “moral high ground.” This is about your privacy, security and how much you’re willing to risk them.
The fact of the matter is that streaming content that you don’t own is illegal, or will become illegal in the very near future. Piracy will always be around, of course. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another, and will continue to be for hundreds more. More on this in my article that looks at Is Kodi Legal?
What’s different now is that it’s becoming easier and easier for the authorities to track who is participating in it.
The UK’s Digital Economy Act (see link above) doesn’t directly go after the people streaming the content, it goes after the people providing the content. Once the news of possible fines and imprisonment spread, multiple streaming sites voluntarily shut down. Even Navi X, one of the longest running Kodi add-ons, closed it’s doors forever. See more shutdowns here, here, here, and here.
According to TorrentFreak.com, the Navi-X team “says that the main reason for discontinuing the addon and its underlying service is the current legal climate. Hosting Navi-X playlists is something that TV Addons no longer feels comfortable with due to the potential liability that comes with it.”
So what, you say? With this flurry of activity, what does this mean for you?
End users of pirate streaming sites could be in legal trouble themselves. You may remember Popcorn Time? Several of their end-users were sued by the filmmakers for damages up to $150,000. Recently a British university student was caught torrenting a movie and faced retribution from her school.
Even if you personally take precautions to keep yourself safe, it may not matter. Several fully loaded Kodi box sellers have been jailed in the UK, recently.
Tell me…what do you think happens to their customer records when they get arrested?
The names and addresses of all of those people who purchased those devices are now in the hands of the police. Which means that those people can now be easily observed for pirating content themselves.
Easiest. Investigation. Ever.
Why should you care?
Make no mistake: You’re the one at risk if you use an illegal service. If you do so, use an anonymous form of payment, like Bitcoin and I recommend using a VPN for Kodi. But just understand, if Big Brother wants to find you, they will. No defense is foolproof.
4. They can take your money and run
But wait…there’s more!
Because most of these paid Kodi addons and IPTV subscription services are illegal (or legally grey), there’s even more risk.
Our friends over at KillTheCableBill.com have a huge list of IPTV Scams that they’ve uncovered over the past few years. And the list is only growing?
You see, it’s easy for someone to set up a paid IPTV subscription service and charge for access to their servers.
But what happens when they get more attention than they bargained for and they decide to close up shop.
If you paid by credit card, which puts you at risk (see point #2 above), then you can try to charge-back the purchase. If you paid by Bitcoin or some other secure method of payment, don’t hold your breathe on getting a refund.
These services were on shaky legal ground to begin with, which means you have absolutely no recourse when things go wrong.
You see, there’s something called the Clean Hands Doctrine which basically says that if you’re engaging in illegal activity, you can’t reasonably expect someone to act within the bounds of the law. Basically, if you tried to sue someone who steals the money you paid them to get illegal access to premium channels and PPV events, then your case will be thrown out of court.
Why should you care?
If you do decide to go with a paid Kodi addon or IPTV subscription, go with a month-to-month plan using a secure method of payment like Bitcoin. That way it will limit your exposure if they decide to go belly-up.
5. All those SD streams are going to look like crap.
You bought a 4K TV, right? If not, you’ve at least got a 1080p HD TV?
So why are you satisfied with Standard Definition (SD) streams?
Many of the streams you’ll see on these IPTV services are in SD, which is around 480p. (Side note: Technically this is “enhanced definition” not “standard definition”, but the term “enhanced definition” has gone away over the past few years).
Simply put: You’re not getting your money’s worth out of that TV if you’re using it to play crappy streams at low resolution.
Why should you care?
You bought your TV for a reason. You were impressed by those attention-grabbing video loops that were playing on it at the store.
So why are you satisfied using only a fraction of its potential?
Paid Kodi Addons and IPTV subscriptions: The Verdict
Bottom line is that you can get something good, or you can get something free. It all depends on what matters to you.
There are other options for streaming that can give you the quality and security that you need, while still cutting a huge chunk out of your cable bill. Stay tuned. The next article in this series will lay out some of those options for you.