The fifth season of HBO's popular fantasy series Game Of Thrones kicks off on Monday, April 13. The bad news is that Foxtel has extended its partnership with HBO, which means you can't legally access the show anywhere else during its initial run. However, there are still a few options available that don't require you to sign up to a costly pay TV subscription. If you're a die-hard GoT fan, these are the choices you should be considering.
The idiot's way of watching Game Of Thrones is to pay for a Foxtel subscription. While this ensures fast-tracked access to every episode of the new season, you'll need to fork out a minimum of $45 per month on a 12 month contract, plus $150 in equipment and installation fees. In other words, you're looking at a total spend of $690, which is a stupid amount of money if you're only interested in Game Of Thrones.
Fortunately, there are a handful of cheaper options available; some of which provide immediate access without breaking the law. Let's take a look at each in turn.
Subscribe to Foxtel Play for three months
Foxtel's online streaming service Foxtel Play recently slashed the price of its Premium Movies & Drama package -- which includes Game Of Thrones -- to just $5. This works out to a minimum of $30 per month, instead of the usual $50.
While this isn't exactly pocket change, you aren't locked into a long-term contract and are free to cancel your subscription as soon as Season 5 ends. Watching the full run will set you back a total of $90. That's still not cheap, but it certainly beats paying $690. The deal also includes access to Foxtel's BoxSets channel which provides on-demand access to every episode of Game Of Thrones. The promotion ends 30 April: head to Foxtel Play's website for more information.
Purchase a season download
Foxtel's exclusive rights to Game Of Thrones only last for the duration of each season. After that, it becomes available from all the usual suspects including Google Play, iTunes and Quickflix. Last year, Season 4 popped up on Google Play barely 24 hours after finishing its run on Foxtel, with iTunes following around two weeks later.
The downside to this method is that you'll need to wait until the final episode airs. On the plus side, you can then binge-watch the whole thing in one go and you'll have more-or-less-permanent copies. Downloading the full season is likely to set you back around $30.
Wait for the DVD or Blu-ray
If you're the patient type, buying the show on physical media is a perfectly sound solution: it's legal, ensures high quality and provides oodles of special features that you won't find on Foxtel. However, you will need to wait around ten months -- which is a long time to avoid spoilers.
Sneak onto HBO Now
HBO Now is a new streaming service that is currently restricted to North American customers. However, it's technically possible to scam your way in using an Apple TV media player, a VPN service and a fake US iTunes account.
The service comes with a 30-day free trial and then costs $14.99 per month. Just be mindful that the legalities of geo-blocking circumvention are a bit murky.
This obviously isn't legal, but we suspect it's what most non-Foxtel fans will end up doing. Many will justify the decision by either purchasing the Blu-ray at a later date or mounting an unconvincing "availability" argument. (As this article shows, there are plenty of options out there for paying customers.)
See also: Our Favourite 25 Game Of Thrones Posts