So this week Amazon Prime (a US-only streaming service) announced a deal to offer programs from HBO that had previously only been available as legal digital content stateside on HBO Go (a US-only streaming service). Why does this matter in Australia? Because it reminds us that being screwed over in terms of how we can access Game Of Thrones is not something that just happens here.
The Amazon Prime deal includes stacks of older HBO shows (including such favourites as The Sopranos and Flight Of The Conchords). But it doesn’t include Game Of Thrones, HBO’s biggest brand right now. Not one little bit. The only way to get hold of Game Of Thrones legally via streaming in the US is to be an HBO subscriber and use HBO Go — just as in Australia, you have to be a Foxtel subscriber (you can have a full subscription or Foxtel Play, but you’ll get no permanent downloads either way).
In Australia, we were temporarily spoiled last year when new episodes were put on sale close to broadcast on iTunes. But that’s not happening any more. It’s annoying, and I don’t expect people to stop being angry about it, or to stop resorting to torrents as an alternative.
But this deal reaffirms that when it comes to Game Of Thrones rights, it’s HBO that gets the final say. It knows it has a spectacularly valuable TV property, and that the easiest way to increase subscriptions to its own services is to leverage that property. In the US, that means not offering the content. Overseas, that means not offering the content through multiple partners if it can get more money from an exclusive deal. No-one ever said television was fair.
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