A torrent containing the first four episodes of HBO's Game Of Thrones hit the Internet over the weekend and has already been accessed hundreds of thousands of times. Here's why you shouldn't join the swarm.
As it is every pre-season-launch, Game of Thrones hype is at fever pitch right now, with the first episode of Season Five being broadcast today. While preview copies of episodes will have done the rounds amongst those that HBO's deemed worthy of early viewing — generally TV reviewers and the like — in this case hundreds of thousands of viewers got an early Christmas present with the first four episodes of ten hitting the Web over the weekend.
I'm keen on the series, but I won't be watching it that way regardless, and I'm firmly convinced you shouldn't either. Here's why.
The episodes are only in standard definition quality
HBO spends a serious amount of money on Game Of Thrones, and while there are a few iffy effects along the way, it generally does show up onscreen. Unless you're watching in SD, and that's all you'll reportedly get out of these torrents anyway.
Hollywood is watching
Undoubtedly heads will be rolling at HBO and hair will be being torn out, but at the same time there's little doubt that HBO will be monitoring public torrents very closely. We've covered off the kinds of evidence that using BitTorrent leaves behind here, and in light of the Dallas Buyer's Club LLC verdict, it's not the best time to be engaging in large-scale piracy.
It's a huge leap over the "availability" argument
One of the most common arguments put forward by pro-piracy advocates is that they pirate because content isn't available in a timely manner here in Australia, and if only that problem were solved they'd pay for content quite happily. This isn't just the first episode, but the first four, and as such anyone downloading them really can't sit behind what in this case is an exceptionally feeble excuse.
It's also a huge leap over the "price gouging" argument too
You don't necessarily have to be happy about the price paid for access to Game Of Thrones. I'm personally a bit miffed that I can't order it through iTunes, as was an option prior to season four. Realistically, the leaking of these four episodes won't sink HBO as a commercial entity either, but ultimately as the producers of this content, it's fair that it's the company that sets the asking price. There's no justification that says "free" is the right price here unless HBO decides that this should be so — or at least there shouldn't be unless you were never going to pay in the first place, in which case your argument was always a hollow one.
There are all sorts of ways to legitimately access Game Of Thrones
Foxtel is simulcasting Game Of Thrones, and while you may have your own position on Mr Murdoch's subscription TV empire, the fact that it drops the asking price when Game Of Thrones seasons roll around isn't coincidental in any way. The price you pay there is part of a deal between Foxtel and HBO, and it's pretty much HBO calling the tune here. Game Of Thrones isn't on Presto, and from what Foxtel's told me, that's part of an agreement that HBO insisted on. It won't be on the cheaper Presto platform at all.
That leaves you with Foxtel Play, which would run to $90 across all ten episodes, or $9 per episode if that was all you wanted to watch. $90 for ten hours of TV — or around five movies "worth" in timing terms — isn't horrifically bad value. Watch literally anything else over those three months and you're very quickly "ahead" in value terms.
Even leaving that aside, it's not the only way to actually pay for Game Of Thrones, as Chris discussed at some length last week in his guide to The Cheapest Ways To Watch Game Of Thrones Season 5 In Australia. Buy the Blu-Rays, sneak onto HBO Now, do whatever you like. But stating that it's "too expensive" in this case is an exceptionally weak argument.
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