I was, until recently, using a VPN server via Witopia to access TVCatchup's service whilst I was on campus at uni. Unfortunately, ports except TCP/80 and TCP/443 are unavailable to me, so the only option is OpenVPN. It was working really well until last week, when suddenly, without warning, I could no longer access the service. Obviously I wasn't best pleased but it wasn't exactly life and death. TVcatchup's service had been getting progressively worse recently anyway, with increased audio dropout and desync, so I just let the problem slide. However I was about to be angered...
Firstly, I always sign up for online services using custom yahoo email addresses - AddressGuard is a great service - it lets you know exactly where a particular email address has been used, and who's selling out. Upon checking my email, i found the following...
Do you currently subscribe to a VPN service and use it to watch UK TV when abroad?
If you do, you may have found that your VPN service has let you down recently, in that one or more popular TV sites are no longer available.
With so many VPN services recently being blocked from TV websites, I wanted to let you know about UKVPN.net, assure you that I have personally checked and confirmed operation of ALL the major commercial TV streaming websites, and offer you the chance to try it out FREE OF CHARGE with no obligation.
One of the best things about the UKVPN.net service when compared to our competitors is that all the software you need comes pre-installed with Windows (2000, XP, Vista and 7 tested) or Apple OSX. You simply need to sign up to our service, tell your PC where to find our VPN servers, and you are off. By not downloading, there is no chance of being infected with spyware, viruses, or other nasties that have been associated with the software provided by similar services to ours.
To try out our service, please sign up on our website at www.ukvpn.net. Once you have logged in, enter the promotional code 'vpnletdown', and you will receive a free 1 week trial of our VPN service absolutely free. This is absolutely no obligation to continue once your free week is up, and at no point will you have to enter any financial details in order to take up this offer.
If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to drop us an email and we will do our best to help.
We look forward to welcoming you as a customer of UKVPN.net.
Finally, if you are not currently subscribing to a VPN service, or are thinking 'VPN? What's that?', please accept my apologies for bothering you. I'm unlikely to use this email list again, but if you would like to make sure you are removed, simply reply to this email telling me so.
(To unsubcribe from our mailing list, simply reply to this email requesting your address to be removed)
Interestingly, this was sent directly to an address that had only EVER been given to tvcatchup.com - no one else, period, ever got this email address.
With my interest piqued, I continued to investigate tvcatchup and ukvpn, and it turns out that they're both hosted with netrino.co.uk. Netrino is owned and operated by Chris Wilkens, a well know close associate of TVcatchup. Additionally, it appears that UKVPN is owned and operated by Inviba.com, a company owned by Adam Smith. Guess who was a co-founder of tvcatchup.com.... that's right - the very same Mr Smith!
So, tvcatchups thinly veiled sham vendetta against VPNs has motive.
What it all comes down to is that tvcatchup own and run ukvpn.net (along with several other VPN companies), and actively market these companies to tvcatchup customers. Ultimately, tvcatchup is promoting the breaking, and assisting in the breaking of the same law which TVcatchup says it has to abide by.
TVcatchup - nice. Looks like you've got some explaining to do.