Dear Fellow Audiofanziners!
Those of you who are fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones have basically two ways to watch the popular series: one become an HBO cable subscriber, assuming this option exists in your country, or two, illegally download the series. It comes as no surprise that Game of Thrones has won the coveted title of the ‘most downloaded series’ when it crossed the 25 million downloads halfway through the second season. But this is not because people are thieves and do not way to pay to watch, it is simply not available on such legal content download sites such as Netflix, so to watch an episode in reasonable time one must download.
This issue has given rise to a new website initiative called “Take My Money, HBO!” where you can sign a petition and name the price that you will pay to subscribe to HBO via the internet. The steaming service would greatly reduce the need for the illegal downloading. The website creator already chalked up 130,000 visitors the first day. Great idea, no? So far the average person said he would pay $12 per month for such a subscription. So what’s the problem, then?
HBO says no. According to an article on TechCrunch, HBO currently has about 30 million subscribers, earning an average of $7-8 from each subscriber. Even if HBO were to abandon this model and charge individuals online a much higher subscription rate, first it will have to invest in the proper online infrastructure, and second it will lose the marketing and distribution that it gets for free from cable and satellite networks. Hence, in the long run it will lose money. Running both models of course (cable and streaming) would be suicide as online will cannibalize cable subscribers.
OK makes sense and I can respect that business is business, so one can continue to download or borrow their friend’s password to HBO Go. But the real question here is beyond Game of Thrones. How long will TV/Cable networks continue to ignore the online market, which we all know is much bigger? My feeling is that no one wants to be the first to take the plunge, to risk old business models and relationships for the new market that have emerged. But like with anything, eventually, one player will have nothing to lose, or everything and will strike out on their own.
In the meantime, trust me, the book series by George Martin is vastly superior to HBO’s rendition (or at times butchering) and best of all it is super portable and off-line.