Foreword: According to Game of Thronians(?), this article may need a spoiler alert.
Winter has come and gone, taking with it the seventh season of popular TV series Game of Thrones. There was intrigue, backstabbing, brooding, dragons and carnage, but of all the forecasted deaths, no one could have predicted that the first of the season would be that of the almighty Foxtel Now.
The sheer number of GOT fans across Australia who signed in to the streaming service to get their fix of the second last season managed to overthrow the platform. Without the digital capabilities to cater for the volume of users, the service crashed, managing to start a war of its own with restless fans who had waited a year for the sweet theme music to play once more.
The fall of House Foxtel
A few years ago, Australia’s piracy levels exceeded that of any other country when it came to GOT, and the Foxtel Now streaming service was put in place as a solution to this issue. But as the service crippled under the volume of users, GOT fans turned to illegal downloads to tune in to the show. For many, this was a justifiable crime.
Spending $1.6 billion on content yearly, Foxtel has managed to secure highly anticipated shows over that of Netflix and Stan in Australia. Although the television company has a strong infrastructure when it comes to cable TV networking, it is evident that its streaming services were not up to scratch to host the premiere of the seventh instalment, or help end the high piracy levels surrounding it. Foxtel could have established a larger customer base if it had proved successful with the streaming of the series, but it would seem as though the company has somewhat fallen short.
“There is only one war that matters, and it is here…”
It is estimated that the series has taken the throne as the most pirated in the world, with the first episode alone illegally downloaded roughly 90 million times. For those that pirated in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth or Brisbane, it is highly likely that you were flagged as one of 1.7 million streaming the show. On top of that, Australian courts ordered that internet providers were to block more than 50 pirate websites that were distributing the show. Many took to using VPN servers to shield their internet location and avoid the possibility of getting caught and fined.
“When people ask you what happened here, tell them, the north fandom remembers”
During the run of the season, Foxtel Now had to issue its fair share of apologies. During the last and longest episode to air, the company’s app experienced heavy issues. The 80-minute extravaganza had a record-breaking 887,000 people tuning in, which caused incredible delays once again with the streaming service. Fans took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction, although the issue was apparently resolved rather quickly.
“There are always lessons in failures”
Although the battle has passed for now, another inevitably looms on the horizon with the eighth and final instalment of the series forecast to premiere in 2018. With that will ultimately come another influx of viewers, and a strong chance that the beloved show will once again manage to exceed streaming and piracy records. Foxtel has roughly a year to prepare its streaming services to support the large viewership numbers the show gathers.