EZTV, the influential piracy site, walked the plank for the last time this week, 10 years after it began distributing torrent files of the most popular TV shows illegally. The site uploaded the TV files that were then aggregated by piracy behemoths like Kickass Torrents and the Pirate Bay. It should be no surprise, then, that EZTV's disappearance is already being felt across the global piracy ecosystem, leaving users scouring the Web for a viable replacement.
EZTV was founded by a group of unknown pirate administrators frustrated by the recurrent need to find a new site when a reliable one would be taken down, either voluntarily or by law enforcement. Aside from regular domain changes and infrequent down time, EZTV operated largely in peace until it was one of the casualties of the police raid that knocked out the Pirate Bay, another legacy piracy site, in November 2014. EZTV returned weeks later, only to be compromised by a group of hackers who ultimately forced it to shut down for good Monday.
The site still exists, but with new, untrusted operators who could be anyone from a group of Russian hackers to a copyright rights enforcement group posting bait files.
The good news for piracy – and very bad news for copyright holders – is that EZTV was one of a number of services whose sole purpose was to upload pirated entertainment. EZTV was in many ways more important to the piracy world because it, like the alternative sites listed below, was where torrent files would first be uploaded before being picked up bigger players like Kickass and the Pirate Bay. Here's a brief list of sites that will continue that tradition:
No, contrary to popular belief, EZTV and ETTV are not partners in crime. Yet the sites seemed to operate in a kind of implicit partnership: If one didn't offer the newest episode of “Game of Thrones” within an hour of the show's ending on HBO, the other almost certainly would. But ETTV is actually an offshoot of the ExtraTorrent tree of websites, which TorrentFreak predicted would be the No. 3 most popular torrent sites of 2015 (three spots higher than the dearly departed EZTV).
A cursory glance through the most popular torrents on the biggest aggregators show that the most recent TV episodes are almost exclusively being distributed by ETTV.
Let's get one thing straight: YIFY is not known for its TV torrents. As EZTV was to television, YIFY is to movies, consistently churning out clear DVD- and BluRay-quality videos in easily downloaded formats. Titles currently trending on YIFY include “Spongebob Squarepants: Out of Water” and the National Geographic movie “Killing Jesus.” But there's also a deep catalog of full TV series available. Looking for free, complete collections of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “Weeds”? YIFY's the place.
Short for Broadcast The Net, BTN has been the subject of Reddit scuttlebutt for months. But unlike ETTV, YIFY and other public trackers, BTN requires users to get an invitation before they're allowed to access a trove of free TV shows. How do you do that? Good question, but BTN announced in January that it was quickly approaching its user cap, meaning invitations are becoming even more precious.
“In recent months, BTN has grown closer to reaching the user limit than ever before. There are no plans to raise the user limit, which unfortunately means that we have to find ways to slow our growth,” the site's administrators wrote in a post reproduced on Reddit. “The number of invites available to each user has been set to zero. This applies to all user classes.”
NovaKing's Next Website
Finally, no one is quite sure who exactly makes up the group that built EZTV. But the various interviews with anonymous members over the years have given birth to the legend of NovaKing, the supposed leader of the EZTV developers. NovaKing's far from a Dread Pirate Roberts-type character, but he (or they) built an internationally renowned piracy site that existed in a legal black hole, running it for 10 years before walking away. Isn't it possible he would do it again, but make it even better?