Winter is coming: the premiere of Game of Thrones

game of thronesCold rain has fallen in Sydney this week, signalling the end of summer. Yes, winter has come! And, excuse the terrible pun, so has Game of Thrones!

The most anticipated television show of the year has finally aired, smashing records in the US; not only on the ye ‘olde television set but online as well. With the season premiere shown three times in the one night on HBO, around 6.7 million people in the US watched one of the three airings. This doesn’t include more than one person sitting around the TV, so the figure could very well be more.

In Australia, the show is “fast-tracked” onto Foxtel each week. While this next statement could cause arguments in itself, Australia’s free-to-air television has pretty substantial quality on its own without the need to pay for a cable service.

Cue the new record that TV aims to break: the premiere episode was estimated to have been downloaded at least one million times (illegally) in less than a day through BitTorrent. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t downloaded through other websites, so again the figure could very well be much more, especially since there’s no way to know how many people passed the file on to another in person via USB. The only TV show to beat this record was the very first episode of Heroes back in 2006.

A quick technical lesson that won’t be too technical before I continue.

BitTorrent is a way of downloading files that uses the practice of peer-to-peer file sharing. It is used for distributing large amounts of data over the Internet; typically movies, television shows and software (like Windows, Microsoft Office or Photoshop).

Peer-to-peer means that one person uploads a movie for people to download. Once people have downloaded it, they are also sharing parts of the file for other people to download. This means that everyone who is downloading is also part of the “server” for you to get files. This is called a swarm, so the more people uploading and downloading bits of a movie, the bigger the swarm.

michael_lombardo_a_p

HBO Programming President, Michael Lombardo

Game of Thrones made a very, very big swarm.

Technically this is illegal; all of these people could have hopped on to iTunes and downloaded the episode for $3. In Australia, where we have plenty of free-to-air channels, we seem to take the mentality of “why would I pay?” Why buy the cow when I can have the milk for free? I’m not getting Foxtel, sifting through MTV’s Jersey Shore marathons just to watch Game of Thrones. I’ve read the books, I know what happens anyway!

Movie and television studios and record labels are notorious for telling us that they are losing money because of online piracy.  I guess it makes sense that they would be losing money, but I have no idea how much fluff there is in that statement. HBO’s own programming president Michael Lombardo said himself that he finds the free downloading a huge compliment to the show and that it does not affect DVD sales.

This is true. If the show is good enough it will gather a merchandise-crazy fan-base and GoT merchandise is everywhere. So how are they losing money? Is it money that isn’t going into the back pockets of the big-wigs at the studios?

Here is my argument: make a good enough show or movie and people will pay. They will either buy tickets, the DVD, a poster, a figurine… people are actually happy to pay. I don’t need my Stark scarf, yet I have one. But I won’t pay for a bad show.

Did you download Game of Thrones or did you watch it on Foxtel? What shows would you be happy to pay for? Let us know in the comment section below, on Facebook or via Twitter.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Winter is coming: the premiere of Game of Thrones

  1. My theory is that I will buy the DVD/Bluray of any show I really like anyway, so I have no problem with downloading things. I feel particularly strongly about this when it comes to shows that have massive delays in cming to Australian TV (or sometimes don’t come ay all!) or are put in terrible timeslots

  2. Geoff

    Me too…
    can I say that?
    I like owning my own copy… a genuine copy.
    I don’t care much about not getting the show when it is released o/s.
    As long as we get it eventually and in a reasonable period.
    What I do hate though is TV stations like Channel 9 that ruin series by slotting old episodes in amongst new episodes.

    Do they know what continuity is?
    Don’t they respect the viewers and their support and love for particular series.

    Take “The Mentalist” for example… they’ve ruined that with their erratic programming. I don’t even care if I miss an episode anymore… they’ve lost my loyalty.

    The list of programming ruined shows grows bigger every day.

    • Geoff, you make a really good point! My mother is a faithful “whodunnit” viewer on the ABC, and they are no exception to the stopping, starting, repeating of shows. If she misses the end of an episode, she just waits 6 months and its back on again. They also keep changing the air time and even the channel. I’ve had this happen to me, I eagerly wait for a new season of something only to find I’ve missed 6 eps because it’s moved over to, say, Ten from Seven.

      Just put it on, leave it on, and get to the end. If I can’t make 7:30pm on Thurs? I’ll figure it out.

  3. Geoff

    Thanks Penny.
    You bring up another great point.
    It used to be that shows were as regular as clockwork they started on the hour or half hour… now they start when ever the stations please.

    They just whack in more ads and the shows run 10 – 15 minutes over . I hate to sound conspiratorial, but you’d almost think it was to wreck the start of another show on another channel. 🙂

    Surely there is someone we can complain to about these situations and get some common sense back into TV.

    I bet they don’t read books by random chapters .

  4. I like being able to watch television shows when it suits me – this is probably due to erratic shift work so I can’t follow normal programming. Hopefully channels will up the anti on their iView type services so watching programs out of the normal programming hours/time slots will be more and more doable – I guess this will always depend on the internet speeds I have as well.

    And Geoff, Channel 9 is a shocker for playing old eps in between newer episodes, drove me insane when I was trying to watch The Big Bang Theory, it makes the process frustrating and like you with the Mentalist, I have pretty much given up on Big Bang.

  5. I thought this article might be of interest:

    Australians will be able to buy HBO series through Quickflix without subscribing to the service.

    Quickflix has announced that it has entered into an agreement with HBO to offer its television series to customers in Australia.

    Customers will be able to purchase and instantly download or stream the programs to smartTVs, game consoles, mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktops regardless of whether they are Quickflix subscribers.

    The new agreement allows customers to buy current seasons of select series on an episode or full season basis.

    Current series of Game of Thrones and True Blood would be among those offered.
    Read the whole article here: http://www.skynews.com.au/showbiz/article.aspx?id=864077

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