Update: GeekWire has reported that Set TV is now being sued by Amazon, Netflix, and other major studios for ‘mass infringement’ of content.
Set TV’s army of enthusiastic YouTubers might lead you to believe that it’s a groundbreaking new internet TV service. However, information we’ve uncovered on the company has led us to believe that Set TV is definitely not legit.
A few weeks ago, Universal, Columbia, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., Amazon and Netflix joined forces to sue the pants off an IPTV box vendor called TickBox. Set TV and other IPTV resellers like it may be their next targets.
Legal or Illegal? It’s Getting Hard to Tell the Difference
Now that DirecTV, Sling TV and several other big name cable TV replacement services have hit the market, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate internet TV service and an illegitimate one.
Like Sling TV, Set TV offers plans that start at $20. However, the amount of channels (500+) you get with Set TV far outweighs what you get with Dish Network’s Sling TV.
So how does Set TV – a small business based in Florida – manage to offer hundreds more channels than a corporation with massive resources like Dish Network?
Though Set TV looks squeaky clean on the surface, the man behind the scenes has been involved with a number of questionable internet business ventures.
Meet the Man Behind Set TV
According to the Better Business Bureau, Jason Labossiere is Set TV’s “principal managing member.”
In 2014, AndroidPolice linked Labossiere to a misleading domain. Labossiere and his business associates were apparently using an official sounding site to sell a device that AndroidPolice described as a “crappy Android set-top box.”
An unsatisfied customer sent a text to complain about his set-top box after it started freezing, and this was the response he allegedly received from Labossiere:
AndroidPolice was also able to dig up Labossiere’s YouTube account, which contains promotional videos for the HCG Diet – an extreme, totally illegal weight loss program that involves injecting HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
“Companies that sell over-the-counter HCG weight-loss products are breaking the law.” – Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., Mayo Clinic
How IPTV Piracy Works
IPTV pirates are people who connect their computer to their cable box or satellite dish and resell or share feeds of their channels to the public.
Run-of-the-mill IPTV pirates share free links to paid sports channels on social media sites and on private internet forums. Pirates that distribute sports links in this manner typically make money by attaching ads to the video streams.
The market for these types of IPTV feeds is limited. People looking for free access to sports channels often have to wade through seedy sites that are filled with pornographic ads or forums that are filled with fake or broken links.
The “family friendly” piracy boom
In recent months, some IPTV pirates have attempted to go mainstream. Instead of harvesting money from free links through ads, they’ve started setting up simple, family-friendly, legitimate looking paid services and websites.
In November of 2016, TorrentFreak found an easy-to-use IPTV service that was selling cheap access to 3,000+ cable TV channels.
The unnamed pirate IPTV service that TorrentFreak identified offered a user friendly interface that resembled a typical cable TV program guide.
Where IPTV pirates go to learn the ropes
Prospective IPTV pirates join various private forums to learn about how to start their own IPTV services. These forums are knowledge hubs that contain reviews of various IPTV servers along with instructions for how to configure and use them. IPTV pirates also use private forums to network, trade gear and get help with technical issues.
In recent months, business-to-business services for wanna-be IPTV resellers that lack technical know-how have started popping up around the web.
On Fiverr and other job sites, people with IPTV knowledge help set up IPTV payment systems. Technicians that specialize in setting up IPTV websites and apps sell their services, too.
“Too Good to Be True” Alert
Like the pirate IPTV service that TorrentFreak spotlighted, Set TV offers a hard-to-believe subscription plan.
Here’s how Set TV’s basic plan compares to basic plans from mainstream internet TV services.
- Sling TV. 30+ channels for $20
- YouTube TV. 40+ channels for $35
- Hulu with TV. 50+ channels for $40
- DirecTV Now. 60+ channels for $35
Set TV’s $20 plan comes with 500+ channels, including many premium channels that you have to pay extra for to get through Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with TV and DirecTV Now.
The Set TV Interface
Set TV sells their own set-top box that comes with Set TV preloaded, but they also have apps for Windows, Mac and Android.
I tried out Set TV for macOS to see if it pulls up video streams. The Mac version of Set TV actually does work quite well.
In addition to 500+ live channels, there’s also a VOD section that brings to mind Netflix.
Though I did run into some content that refused to load, the vast majority of Set TV’s channels and videos worked like a charm.
Set TV Insists It’s Legit
In order to find out more about Set TV, we opened up a chat with one of their technical support representatives.
The representative assured us that Set TV was properly licensed.
Chat started on 05 Dec 2017, 04:39 PM (GMT+0)
(04:47:19) Nikki: Hello!
(04:47:25) Nikki: How can I help you?
(04:48:19) Visitor 13645095: I want to know if the streams you guys offer are licensed by the networks themselves
(04:48:47) Nikki: Yes, it is.
(04:49:48) Visitor 13645095: Really? The cable networks allowed you to create a service that offers 500 channels for $20?
(04:50:32) Nikki: Yes. Please check our website https://www.setvnow.com/
The next day, we sent in an email to [email protected] to request proof that the company had worked out deals with the cable channels that it sells.
The company responded with an email indicating that its business deals are “confidential matters.”
Better Business Bureau Rating: F
It’s very odd that the Customer Care team encouraged us to go take a look at their horrible Better Business Bureau reviews.
Set TV currently has a Better Business Bureau rating of “F”.
If Set TV’s BBB complaints are to be believed, service lapses are frequent and customer support is extremely slow and poor.
Many of Set TV’s unsatisfied customers complained about rude, dismissive customer support responses. Several also noted some odd noises in the background.
One unhappy customer reported that she heard “a baby crying or whimpering” while on the phone with a support representative. During the call, the customer was allegedly told that she’d be “banned from the services” until she removed her complaint from the BBB site.
A different Set TV customer reported that he heard “children, dogs and roosters in the background” while trying to resolve an error that prevented him from using the product.
“I am livid, I could not advance from this screen after following directions. I just paid my $20 monthly fee on 9/6/17 and CANNOT WATCH TV and no one is willing to help with this error code.”
Set TV’s Army of Influencers
Set TV’s Better Business Bureau reviews and complaints are entirely negative. Set TV’s paid YouTube promoters, however, paint a much rosier picture.
Several YouTubers with large followings have teamed up with LaBossiere and his associates to publicize his latest business venture.
YouTube personalities that have joined forces with Set TV include:
- “Solo Man” Onill Mancebo
- Shane Starnes aka “DroidmodderX”
- Kevin the “Tech Ninja”
- Peter Carcione of HowToSetup.TV
- “Plus size fashion influencer” Passion Jonesz
Another curious detail: all the YouTube videos embedded on the Set TV site lead directly back to Set TV’s YouTube channel. If Set TV’s promoters ever change their mind about Set TV, it’ll be very difficult – if not impossible – to have their testimonials removed from the web.
How Long Will Set TV Last?
If Set TV lied to us and are in fact operating illegally, the “burden of proof” will fall on them if authorities come knocking at their door.
As mentioned above, Universal, Columbia, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., Amazon and Netflix recently joined forces to sue an IPTV box vendor called TickBox.
A few weeks ago, TorrentFreak reported that Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN shut down and fined 170 IPTV pirates.
Because Set TV claimed to be legit yet refused to offer any proof, believing the company requires a gigantic leap of faith – especially given Set TV boss Labossiere’s past.
Labossiere has already been called out by other publications for using a legit-sounding domain to trick people into buying poor quality set-top boxes. The fact that Labossiere has promotional videos about illegal diet plans on his YouTube channel isn’t exactly a good look, either.
We think it’s safe to conclude that Set TV refused to provide evidence that it’s legit simply because it can’t. Though Set TV’s interface and website look nice, at its core Set TV is likely just another IPTV bandit.