Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard?

07 Apr 14 03:41PM EST
Post by Matt Levey  Matt Levey Google Plus

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.

I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, even though it requires me to buy 19 channels I don’t want in order to access a single program on your showcase channel that I do. But I’m willing to pay for Ice Road Truckers, Treehouse Masters and various reality programs on the theme of taxidermy, if it means I can visit Westeros once a week, at a convenient time.

I’m doing this begrudgingly, because I cancelled my Foxtel on T-Box subscription last year in a vague protest over a $15 late fee from Telstra (which was admittedly not Foxtel’s fault - and also the football season was over, so it was a pretty lame protest).

But the point is I want to pay you for Game of Thrones. All I ask in return is that I can watch the show at a convenient time that I choose – as in, not at exactly 7:30pm on a Monday night. This is the same convenience I get from my Apple TV or any of the free-to-air TV catch-up services.

But here’s the thing: I can’t get regular Foxtel where I live. And for reasons that are unclear, your T-Box version of Foxtel does not support on-demand options like Catch Up or Go. And for reasons even more unclear, even if I subscribed to Foxtel Go separately, you won’t let me watch content from my tablet or smartphone on my TV using Airplay or mirroring or an HDMI link.

Would it be so terrible if you allowed customers to watch the content they have paid for when and how they want? Or perhaps I am a spoilt and ungrateful consumer, and as an Australian, I should just watch TV at the time and on the device I am allowed to.

Apparently HBO are to blame for Game of Thrones not appearing on iTunes this year, which is a shame, because I was willing to pay more than Americans for watching it week-by-week.

Maybe international rights deals are to blame for everything. There might be some unavoidable contractual sub-clause that requires to Foxtel treat content on a TV completely differently to an iPad and differently to a PlayStation and differently again to a T-Box, a piece of technology that continues to find new ways of demonstrating how non-essential it is.

I don’t know, and at this point, I almost don’t care. I am starting to think there is more chance of George RR Martin publishing another book than there is of Australians being treated equally to US consumers when it comes to watching telly.

In the meantime, I will definitely not be heading north of the wall to illegally download Game of Thrones, because it is the wrong thing to do. I’m sure that following the season four premiere, no other Australians will either.


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