Unless you live on mars you would be aware that Game of Thrones Season 3 is airing within the next few weeks. You would also know that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show of 2012. With 4 million illegal downloads per episode that is a huge number of potential customers that HBO is choosing to neglect.
Living in Australia can be incredibly frustrating at times, we don’t get access to Netflix or Hulu, we pay more for downloads on almost every digital goods store (despite the high Aussie Dollar), we have clowns trying to censor the internet and for some crazy reason none of the free to air TV channels in Australia want to show Game of Thrones – no wonder they are all going broke.
For season 1 of Game of Thrones, the only option that Australians had if they wanted to watch the show was to download it illegally, or to wait until the entire series of over and buy the DVD or download it off iTunes.
Season 2 was slightly better, with the Australian Pay TV company Foxtel getting the rights to show Game of Thrones on their channel Showcase. Unfortunately they aired the episodes a week after they were shown in the US and so there wasn’t a great take up. After all, who would want to wait a week and potentially get hit with a spoiler while all your friends and coworkers were watching the show less than an hour after everyone in the US because the download was so easily accessible. On top of this, Australia also had the largest rate of piracy of Game of Thrones in the world at 10% of all downloads. This is despite our backwater little country having a population of only 22 million people and some of the slowest internet speeds in the developed world (Ranked #42).
Needless to say, piracy has become a massive problem for the people at HBO (or has it?). They keep producing hit TV series after hit TV series, but they refuse to embrace the internet distribution model, and so they end up losing millions and millions of dollars in revenue. I’m sure they have a big team of bean counters who know money better than I do, but I can’t see how 4 million unpaid downloads per episode is good business practice. Even only charging $2-$3 per episode works out to be some serious money.
I know that over the last decade many of the music and movie studios have taken court action against pirates (also commonly referred to as – their own fan base), but it doesn’t seem to be working. The music industry has suffered with piracy a lot longer than the Movie and TV studios, and over the last few years they have started to provide a lot more legitimate options for people to legally download music. What isn’t surprising to me, is that music piracy is in decline (much like the quality of politicians in Australia, but that’s a story for another day…). I wonder how long it will take the TV/Movie industries to realise the same thing? Here’s hoping it isn’t too long as I am sick of the way many of the TV networks treat their customers with utter disdain.
Game Of Thrones Season 3 – Australian Air Time
This year Foxtel and HBO have finally listened to the people and decided to show the episodes of Game of Thrones only 1 hour after it airs in the US – Hallelujah! For anyone living in Australia and looking for the airtime of Season 3 here is the link you are looking for – http://showcasechannel.com.au/show/13201 – Next Playing: 4:20pm Monday 1st April
Still, watching Game of Thrones isn’t going to come cheap. Foxtel is very expensive (I should know, we have had it for a while due to my Aussie Rules Obsession). Currently we pay a whopping $80 a month and this gives us access to the base package, the entertainment package and most importantly the sports package. Originally we only wanted to get Foxtel to watch the football, but to get access to the sports package, they also force you to purchase the base package. Seeing as I was getting the sports channels, it is only fair that my wife also gets a package as she really likes a lot of channels in the entertainment package and so we also got that.
This means that if I want to watch Game of Thrones legitimately, I will have to pay for the movie package, which will cost an extra $25 a month. That puts our cable TV bill at over $100 a month – insanity considering we only really like about 4-5 shows! Despite this, I want to reward the people at Foxtel for finally getting with the times and scheduling the show to air straight away, so I am inclined to pay the extra $25 a month even if it is just for the 10 weeks that Game of Thrones is on. My preference would be to go to HBO.com and to pay them directly for a download of their show and to cut out the middle man, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
If you do decide that paying for subscription TV is going to cost you too much money and you are hell bent on downloading Game of Thrones, please make sure you check out my 30 Tips to stay safe on the internet post, as it may just save you from needing a computer repair man in the near future.
What do you think – Is piracy ever justifiable? How much would you be willing to pay to watch episodes on demand, rather than having to buy a whole package? I am really interested in everyone’s thoughts on this one as almost everyone I know pirates TV shows.