The new season of Doctor Who has finally landed on television screens around the world, and we’ve started to see the first few signs of spam and other assorted nonsense lumbering online.
A rash of YouTube accounts claiming to offer up the new series are making the rounds, all of which generally lead to the same final destination: a site that claims to offer free membership, but leaves some actual fees buried in the terms and conditions if you presumably want to access the promised content.
If you go hunting for Doctor Who streams at the moment, you’re liable to see a bunch of results similar to the below, posted from multiple accounts. Here are a few advertising episode 1 of the latest series:
Click to enlargeHere’s one doing the same thing, but with Peter Capaldi in the promo pic instead, and I can let them off with this, seeing as it’s Peter Capaldi.
Click to enlargeAll of them claim to offer up the upcoming Series 11 (even the ones using pictures from older series), but even from the outset, the videos should make you a little bit wary.
For starters, there’s no preview clips of the content. Instead, the videos pop a blink and you’ll miss it promo shot of Doctor Who which is immediately replaced by random upload content.
Click to enlargeHow random? Well, it’s everything from what sounds like mid 2000's pop music and video game streams to weird spinning graphics and pulsating lights. Essentially, absolutely nothing to do with Doctor Who and everything to do with a solid hour of cut and paste garbage in a bid to evade YouTube copyright detection and/or pad out the video length. Even Love & Monsters didn’t drag on this long.
Click to enlargeDepending on which spammy YouTube account you start from, you’ll either be given a direct link to one of the supposed Doctor Who content portals or a Bit(dot)ly link for a second site claiming to do the same thing.
From there, you’ll end up on one of a number of cookie-cutter identikit websites, which offer up more glimpses of the new Doctor with a play now button. Here’s one:
Click to enlargeWherever you’ve come from, clicking through the continue buttons pops a “Create free account” box. The shot below is from the other site, bestv(dot)online, at the same stage in the process. It may as well be the same website.
Click to enlargeNote that although “Create free account” is prominent, it does say off to the side that you can “Try this service for free.” A lot of people might assume there’s no cost here, but trying a service for free generally tends to imply charges down the line, perhaps by having to upgrade an account to be able to access anything remotely worthwhile.
We’ve seen lots of websites that look like our final destination down the years; many claim to offer free books, games, videos, and more. Search for the site names online though, and you’ll often find disgruntled users complaining that after joining, they were simply given lists of third-party download sites to try, or links to pirated content like this author claims in the top comment, or (occasionally) not even that.
This one, called "Basilplay," follows a similar design format for the template if nothing else with liberal splashings of the word “free” all about the place. “Free and unlimited games, books, movies, and more.” “Sign up for free.” “Please create a free account to access unlimited downloads and streaming.”
Click to enlargeThat all sounds very, well, free. Doesn’t it?
If you check the inevitable T&Cs, however, things become a little unclear. They state that there’s a “standard” account that doesn’t cost any money (they still want some payment information at time of registration either way), and a “premium” account, which gives full access to whatever content they claim to be offering. There’s nothing on site that shows the specifics of what you get versus what you don’t get for paying, so you’re effectively signing up with zero idea of what’s on the other side.
Click to enlargeThe premium rolling subscription, according to the T&Cs, is $89.95 a month. Not so much Doctor Who, as Doctor Whoo-boy. For that sort of money I’d also want to know who said “Silence will fall” in the TARDIS.
Click to enlargeA few of the landing pages seem to be rotating out sites, so you might end up on Basilplay, or you could find yourself materialising on a similar site located elsewhere:
Click to enlargeCuriously, we revisited the Basilplay site while putting together this blog, and it seems to have taken on a Time Lord–style regeneration of its own:
Click to enlargeI’m not sure where Doctor Who series 11 has gone, but I don’t think we’re going to be seeing humorous references to reversing the polarity of the neutron flow on a site suddenly all about video games, do you?
Doctor Who has long since become a global brand at this point, and it’s frankly never been easier to catch it on any number of mainstream, legal channels, including purchasing DVDs, streaming, or even just watching it live. In fact, you could really get into the swing of things and Timeshift, which seems highly appropriate.
However you do it, you don’t need to bother with spammy YouTube videos, clickthrough portals, or landing pages that offer books and TV shows one day, but focus on video games the next.
Now that the new series is up and running, you can expect a lot more antics similar to the above across many corners of the Internet. As always, if it seems too good to be true, then do yourself a favour and jump back into the TARDIS. A crack in time is bad enough, but a crack in your bank balance is even worse.