Game of Thrones Season 3 began airing two days ago. Since then, a variety of news sources have reported that Australia still punches far above its weight for piracy.
Many US tech journalists have explained this fact away by citing “long waiting times” as the culprit in Australia. While that was true in the past, this time is different.
In Australia, there is two ways to get to a legal copy of Game of Thrones: Foxtel & iTunes.
Foxtel aired the episode on Showcase a mere two hours after the US premiere at 4:20pm, and again at 8:35pm in TV primetime, for a total of 224,000 people over the 4 airings of the show (including the re-runs two hours later on the Showcase +2 channel). Granted, not everyone adds Showcase to their Foxtel subscription, but our US counterparts don’t all have HBO either.
iTunes has the show available 2 days later than the US airing (still far too late if you’re a hardcore fan, but improving) in a HD season pass download for $34.
So, I’d argue even though the iTunes download was a little late, it was not a significant wait, nor was it impossible to get to the show legally if you really wanted to. We may even have it slightly easier than the US, because they don’t have the iTunes option available.
Renai LeMay from Delimiter had this to say about the situation:
Australians have been arguing for most of the past decade that high rates of local piracy were due to the fact that we simply couldn’t get the same content as easily and quickly as US residents could. It’s fascinating to me that we continue to pirate Game of Thrones at a record rate, despite the fact that the content companies have clearly listened to these complaints and have tried to rectify them with legal alternatives. What does this say about ourselves? That we want Game of Thrones for free no matter how much it cost the creators of the show to make it? This bears a great deal of thought.
I have a theory about this. For years, people in Australia have been pirating shows. Good show coming out in the US? Better hit the torrents! We knew the US TV schedules better than we knew our own!
Content providers dragged their feet for too long, and ‘hit the torrents’ became the default viewing behaviour for people in Australia who want to watch quality television.
So now there are legal alternatives available. Well, who cares? A typical viewer will now just say “well, what I’ve done for the last few years still works, so I’ll just keep doing that.”
Default behaviours are hard to change. Really really hard. It takes time, effort & money.
The real question in my mind is; is Australia a lost cause for legal TV content? Will Aussie viewers ever come back to paid content?
Something related to leave you with: SBS2 just relaunched this week with content aimed at the thinking 30s market. It’s struggling. Where exactly do you think those people are getting their content?