Game of Thrones: Foxtel and HBO streaming stuff up

Bruce Meagher, from Foxtel, explains why people weren’t able to access the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones

Introduction: Game of Thrones

Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Money News. We’re just talking about IT failures with the tech’s office and the problems it’s had. Well, last night as a result of an unprecedented demand, those people who sought to watch the award-winning, record-breaking blockbuster of a show called Game of Thrones found themselves in a bit of strife if they were trying to stream it down from Foxtel. Foxtel’s got a streaming service where you can basically watch via the Internet as well as watching it via the Foxtel box itself. This is called Foxtel Now.

Now, this was the premier of the seventh season. I’ve got to tell you, it’s really tough for any business if the IT systems go down as a result of significant demand. Let’s go now to Bruce Meagher, who’s the spokesperson for Foxtel, to explain exactly what happened last night. Good day, Bruce. I’ve looked at the ratings this morning. It’s an unusual thing just to say this to people to explain it. When you get the daily ratings of the capital cities for television programs, it is not a common thing to see something from pay television make it into the top 30 shows.

Well, Game of Thrones did make it into the top 30 shows of all and of course you had significantly more people watching it via the downloads and the streaming that you had last night as well.

Interview: Bruce Meagher, Foxtel

Bruce Meagher: That’s right. I suppose I’d say it’s sort of a bittersweet thing really that we had the most successful launch on our platform ever. And also, a lot of people watching not just on cable and satellite but able to watch online and yet, a significant number of our customers who’d signed up for our Foxtel Now product in particular having troubles to watch it on the streaming service. We’re very, very disappointed with that because obviously, it should have been a great night and it ended up being a very frustrating night. More importantly, a frustrating night for those customers who couldn’t watch it when they wanted to.

Ross Greenwood: That’s right. The reason why it’s important to you to make certain streaming service works well and is robust is because of the large number of illegal downloads that are now Australian consumers have basically tapped into here in Australia. Time Magazine last year said that Game of Thrones was the show with the most illegal downloads worldwide, Australia being the worst of those with an average of 12.5% of the total BitTorrent traffic. The thing is, you want to try and get as many people on your platform and not able to get to those illegal sources.

Bruce Meagher: That’s exactly right. It is a serious problem for the creative industries, that pirating. It’s something that we’re determined to try and combat. One of the ways, as you rightly say, is you make the content available. It was available at 11:00 AM, which is the same time it went to air in the United States. There’s no delay there. It’s available for no more than $15 a month, which is a pretty good price for that and all the other content you get. But for some people, and there were significant numbers, we’re not pretending that wasn’t the case, that became a very frustrating exercise because the system didn’t let them log in.

Now, it has righted its bills. I’m pretty confident that everybody has been able to watch the show if they’d wanted to watch it either later on that night, or during the course of the day, or this evening. Nonetheless, there were a bunch of people who turned on at seven o’clock last night reasonably expecting to be able to do it and they would, and that’s a terrible thing and we’re sorry about that.

Ross Greenwood: The other thing, Bruce, is despite all of these, you’ve still got warnings out there for those people who do download illegally because quite clearly they’re breaching copyright rules, people that are aware of those type of stuff. And yet quite clearly, some people are still prepared to deliberately break the law in the knowledge because it’s something that I obviously want and something that I want quickly.

Bruce Meagher: Yes, I don’t understand that. I can’t think of any other situation where you would say, “I don’t like the way you charge for this” or “I don’t like the way you bundle up this product or whatever, therefore, I’ll steal it.” It’s a very, very strange moral compass that some of us people have. Sadly, there are some people who would do that.

Now, as I say, it’s incumbent upon us to make it available in a timely manner, in a reasonable manner. We are doing that and then these technological problems come along. It’s just very, very frustrating because, as I said, it’s a stumbling block when we’re trying to do the right thing.

Ross Greenwood: No doubt about that. It’s also a very big program, very costly investment for Foxtel, that’s the reason why you want it to work. The spokes person for Foxtel, as I said, this is the blockbuster show Game of Thrones and it was very much anticipated, there is no doubt. Bruce Meagher, we appreciate your time here on the program today.

Bruce Meagher: Not a problem at all. Thank you.

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