Would You Pay $50 Per Episode To See Game Of Thrones?

from the questions,-questions dept

The HBO series Game of Thrones always seems to be at the center of the piracy debate. The show's mass popularity certainly has something to do with that (popular content is almost always at the top of various infringement lists), but a big part of it is that, even for people willing to pay for the show, the fact that the only way to do so is to get an expensive cable subscription is a big part of the problem. In fact, there's some reason to suggest that the vast amount of piracy around Game of Thrones has been a key part of its success -- something that many folks associated with the show will admit in candid moments before being told by corporate bosses to shut up.

And while the legacy entertainment industry continues to take a "zero tolerance" approach to infringement, by pretending that their various (extremely limited) online services are good enough, the simple truth is that it's ridiculously expensive for folks who just want to watch Game of Thrones online. The good folks at TorrentFreak took a look at what it would cost in a bunch of different countries to watch the authorized version of the show if you were a cord cutter who wasn't interested in anything else in a cable subscription. The Australian result may be the most shocking:

When we look at the packages offered on the website the cheapest option appears to be the movie and drama combo, which costs $74 AUD (~ 70 USD) per month. However, the minimum subscription term is six months, which with the added costs adds up to $520 AUD (~ 590 USD). Assuming that someone’s only interested in watching Game of Thrones, an Australian fan will have to pay $52 AUD (~ 49 USD) per episode, which is rather expensive

That's a bit of an understatement. And this is especially interesting, given that the US ambassador and the MPAA have repeatedly pointed to Game of Thrones piracy as a top priority that the Australian government needs to "fix." Perhaps, instead, there should be a focus on making it so that each episode is actually reasonably affordable. The situation, of course, is equally ridiculous in most other countries that TorrentFreak explored. And, yes, as HBO has said over and over again, it has good business reasons for doing this (it makes a ton of money from cable and satellite companies for each subscriber -- likely more than they'd pay individually). But the end result is that it should hardly be surprising that plenty of people choose an alternative route -- and it shouldn't be something that has US ambassadors up in arms.

Filed Under: cord cutting, game of thrones, hbo, piracy, price


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Apr 2014 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    "I don't think that's really a fair comparison, after all they're looking at the price for a whole bundle and ascribing all the cost to just one part of it."

    That is the actual point. People who defend HBO's tactics tend to pretend that it's only the HBO subscription fee that needs to be paid. But, there's many other costs in reality, unless you happen to already paying for everything else for other reasons. To obtain that one show, this is what is actually costs assuming that someone only wants to access the one show and not anything else included in the package.

    Nobody's really going to do that, of course. This is just to illustrate the problem.

    "You can do much better than $50 an episode by waiting for the DVD release."

    But, that's delayed, usually long after the actual discussion has taken place. IIRC, is was nearly a year for the first season. Many are willing to pay more for quicker access, but not what they technically need to pay with the current offerings.

    "If you are only counting ways to watch a series the instant it's released (ie no waiting for DVD release windows) then the cost could go up astronomically."

    Unless you pirate. Which is ultimately the point with a lot of these services. HBO probably have their reasons, but many would-be customers have literally no choice other than piracy if they're not going to pay the $50/episode equivalent above.

    "but for other shows you would need to factor in weekly flights to the US and a hotel which has access to the relevant cable channel"

    Or a VPN service from the comfort of your own home. Just because the comparison seems silly, you don't have to go overboard ;)

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