Giveaway of the Day is a web site that offers a free software download every day, typically the previous version of something its developer is trying to sell. The gimmick is that it’s only available on one calendar day and must be downloaded and installed only then. Today’s suggestion, a streaming TV and radio app called onlineTV 13, fits the usual pattern; its German developer includes a special offer to upgrade to version 14. But is it legit to use, and how would I tell?
The source checks out. Giveaway of the Day has been operating for years, and the handful of times I’ve downloaded the software of the day, it was authorized by the developer and gave no hint of irregularity. The developer is apparently Engelmann Software, which has been creating and selling utilities since at least 2008, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The About page for onlineTV says that it has been “downloaded several million times” since it was launched in 2002.
There’s only one reason for me to question whether it’s okay to use this program. Among its “130 stations from 11 countries” are the New York City affiliates of NBC and CBS, plus several BBC channels from the UK. After installing the app, I could watch them all. In fact, the info page for the latest version specifically notes that it bypasses the “geotargeting” that many broadcasters use to restrict where their channels may be watched. Considering what I know about how conservative NBC, CBS, and the BBC are about redistributing their feeds, I’d guess that those folks probably aren’t happy with onlineTV.
(On their Legal page, the developers are less boastful, claiming that “Responsibility for the content of external links (to web pages of third parties) lies solely with the operators of the linked pages. No violations were evident to us at the time of linking. Should any legal infringement become known to us, we will remove the respective link immediately.”)
Now let me quickly point out a counterexample. Pluto TV is also available as an app with dozens of live channels including Bloomberg, Stadium, Fox Sports, CNBC, Mystery Science Theater 3000, movies and much more. I read way too much industry news, so I feel pretty confident that Pluto is legit. But how would the average user recognize whether one service’s offerings are more legitimate than another’s?
I’m not here to pick on onlineTV, whose full slate of channels might be perfectly legit for all I know. I point it out in hopes that you’ll remember it the next time someone talks about penalties for anyone caught watching TV the wrong way. There are times when the average viewer can’t easily tell whether the way they’re watching is right or wrong.