As a Finn, I will most likely check their service out, though mostly to see how it fares against the less legal methods in terms of convenience, quality and so on. There are many small things that could go wrong and ultimately make using the service more annoying than what it's worth, but all in all, I have to congratulate them for doing something that could be actually dubbed progressive in the digital market for video.
I just wish that beyond all these monthly subscriber streaming plans that everyone seems to be so fond of, we could also purchase DRM-free downloads for individual shows. They could do this in the same service, and make it so that any individually purchased content could then be streamed or downloaded freely anytime the user wants on whatever device, even if they don't have an active catalog streaming subscription. Unfortunately, actual downloads seem to be a rarity in the digital market for video, and the few options that exist are limited to a single country and laced with layers of DRM. In that sense, the legal options still have a lot of catch-up to do in comparison to the illegal alternatives.
Your arguments might be compelling if it wasn't for the fact that you ignore one very huge factor in this discussion. For a huge number of people, it's impossible to get a HBO subscription, because they live in this place called The Rest of the World That Isn't the United States. Like me. I couldn't pay money to watch Game of Thrones as it airs in the US even if I wanted to, and as you point out, that is something of quite large importance in the social factor of things. A cable pay channel around here is showing Game of Thrones at the moment, but they're like three or so weeks behind. A free public channel will air it later on, but there's still about six months before they start with that. This was actually something that was brought up in a local forum recently: It has a one section for following TV series as they air in the US, and another section for when they air on local TV. A couple people who were following it on the pay channel a few weeks behind the US airing said that they felt quite left out, since they can't participate in the US-pace discussion due to spoilers, and they won't be able to participate as "new viewers" during the local public TV airing in six months either.
And personally, I wouldn't want to spend my money on a full HBO subscription either way even if I could afford it and could get it - I simply don't watch enough US TV entertainment to justify that. Game of Thrones is one of the mere four US TV series that I've actually watched regularly during the past year, and the only HBO show at that. This is why I would rather just buy its episodes individually as digital downloads. Right now, I've pirated the TV airings of both seasons of GoT and bought the BD box for S1 as soon as it came out, and I plan on doing the same for S2, but I sure as hell don't have any interest in relying on the "comes out a year after the season started airing" BD boxes for first-time watching.
The people who actually produce the content could easily beat out the scene in every possible way. They could offer their content faster (it still takes a while for scene releases to hit public trackers, streaming sites, etc - especially for HD encodes), in any format (scene has their rules which they abide by for releases, and anything outside those rules is up to the whims of the P2P scene), with more convenience (no terribly seedy sites for streams, easier downloading options, giving options for both streaming & downloading) and so on. They have all the means to beat illegal alternatives in speed, quality and convenience. If they did all that and the price wasn't ludicrous (say $2 max per episode), I am absolutely positive that it would attract a massive amount of customers. Some people will obviously still keep pirating (there's always a portion of people like that), but we know not to give a crap about those people and just focusing on delivering the most awesome service possible.
As has been said, piracy is a service problem. And the answer to that is to provide awesome services that people want to use - which will directly lead to people paying for said services.
So in the end, it's really how the title of this article puts it - I'm not going to pay companies out of guilt or just because they put some half-assed effort into making things available digitally. They have all the cards for beating piracy in their hands. They can offer better service, speed and quality. The only thing they need to do is to actually play those cards, so they could actually start earning all that money sitting in the pockets of me and many others right now.
Techdirt has not posted any stories submitted by Daiz.