I Tried To Pay Foxtel For Game Of Thrones, But They Wouldn’t Let Me

I Tried To Pay Foxtel For Game Of Thrones, But They Wouldn’t Let Me

“There is no longer any excuse to pirate Game of Thrones.” That’s what the self-satisfied think-pieces were telling me. That’s what the smug folk on Twitter are saying. It seems every time I refreshed I was regaled with the all-too loud declarations of those who wanted everyone to know they would be paying to watch Game of Thrones. Bully for you.

The lady doth protest too much. I’d wager a small fortune that every single one of them have a torrent client installed on their computer alongside a conveniently placed ThePirateBay shortcut on their browser of choice.

But the truth is I was no different. I also wanted to do the right thing. At some point over the last couple of days a family member and I made a decision: we would find a legitimate way to watch Game of Thrones. Through a superhuman act of will I also mustered the resolve to not tweet about this decision.

We decided to go through Foxtel. That was our first mistake.

My brother in-law paid for the subscription and I was to be his secondary account. Just a minor bit of cost saving. I was after all solely purchasing this subscription to watch one single show. At around 6.45pm I was pinged an email.

It was a “you have been selected as a secondary account email”, an email with instructions and a link. This is how I would be registering my account. “It’ll only take a minute to register” promised the Foxtel website when I hit the link. Great, I’ll have this up and ready to go before my wife gets through the front door.

Yeah, nah. What happened next was an absolute calamity coupled with some of the worst customer service I’ve ever had to deal with. I feel sorry for the next poor bastard who, in all good faith, bombards me with the words, “there is no longer any excuse to pirate Game of Thrones”.

“Generic Error”

That’s what the website called it. A “generic error”. That was the webpage that sprung up when I tried to register my account.

No problem, I thought, I’ll give it another try.

“Generic Error.”

“Generic Error.”

“Generic Error.”

Generic Error all through the good goddamn night. What the hell is a generic error? I never found out.

Foxtel’s website suggested I try again later, which I did. Same result. Then it suggested calling a customer service hotline. Which I also did. The first words I was greeted with from the robot customer service voice:

“Hey are you looking to upgrade to sports?”

Not “welcome to Foxtel”.

“Hey are you looking to upgrade to sports?”

Straight to the upsell. Bugger the foreplay. At least buy me a goddamn drink…

It took me a while to realise I was talking to one of those automated voice recognition things.

“No,” I said, eventually, exasperated.

“In a few words, tell us what your issue is,” I’m paraphrasing now. It was something along those lines.

“Secondary account” is what I said in reply. I’m sure I could have said something more precise or broad or whatever, but I couldn’t think of anything else at the time.

The robotic reply: “You want to buy a movie right?”

No. Fuck no.

Another handful of fails and the robot customer service man decides he want to converse with me no more. He resorts to listing things with a ‘press this number’ attached, the old fashioned way.

“If you want to upgrade to sports or book a movie, press 1.”

This is unbelievable.

At this point I hung up thinking maybe enough time had passed, maybe I should try and register on the website again? Nope…

Generic Error.

Generic Error.

Generic Error.

Jesus Christ, could you at least be specific with your errors?

I Tried To Pay Foxtel For Game Of Thrones, But They Wouldn’t Let Me

I get on the buzzer again. I stomach the upsells and the robot man who can’t understand me. I get to the part where the system has no goddamn idea what I want and is therefore in the process of transferring me to a human being who, presumably, might have some clue how to help me.

I check the time: 8.45 pm. I’ve been at this for two hours now.

I listen to the spiel about how this phone call would be recorded blah-blah-blah. I’ve been on the phone for about 15 minutes trying to get to this point. I’m optimistic. Finally, my problem might get solved.

Then another robotic message:

“We are currently experiencing high call volume, please call back later or log onto our website.”

It hangs up on me.

No callback service, no placing me on hold. Nothing. A dial tone. An invitation to go through this hellish process all over again with no guarantee that I won’t get the precise same message again at the end of it all: “please call back later”.

I could do that or I could log-in to the website that doesn’t work. Those are my two choices.

It was at this point I realized: if I had pirated Game of Thrones instead of trying to pay for it I would have downloaded it and watched it by now. I could probably have watched it twice.

So here’s what I did next. I sunned myself by the ‘bay’ and while I topped up my ‘torrent tan I watched Orange is the New Black on Netflix. I logged into my account on my laptop. It had remembered precisely what episode I was up to on my PlayStation 4. I watched 20 minutes of a new episode in my kitchen whilst making a giant, soothing pot of soup. Then I turned on my TV, launched Netflix on my PlayStation 4 and, what do you know? It remembered how much of the episode I had watched on my laptop two minutes and seamlessly began playing from that point in HD.

I ate the soup I just made. It was delicious.

That’s entertainment in 2015 as it should be.

I Tried To Pay Foxtel For Game Of Thrones, But They Wouldn’t Let Me

I, like most Australians I suspect, want to pay for things. I’m currently a paying subscriber on five separate entertainment services: Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, Spotify, Netflix and UFC Fight Pass. During a colossal whinge with a respected colleague this morning he said something along the lines of, “you’re complaining because you didn’t get exactly what you wanted when you wanted it.”

But here’s the thing: with all these other services that’s precisely what I do get. I do get what I want when I want it. That’s the reality of the world we live in, that’s the level of service I am getting from Netflix and Spotify. Foxtel is living in a Halcyon past where there is zero competition, and it can charge whatever it likes for a less-than-stellar service.

TL;DR: Foxtel has a service problem.

It has a customer service problem and it has a problem with its actual service. If Foxtel is going to talk big about the issues of piracy, it had better have the infrastructure to back those words up and provide a service worth subscribing too. Currently, it doesn’t.

I will forever love Gabe Newell’s wise words on piracy:

“We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,” he said. “If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.”

Double that if you can’t even bloody log-on to a service to watch it.

Eventually, at 9:45pm I watched my torrented version Game of Thrones. It was a pretty good episode.


  • We use my wife parents Foxtel GO accounts.

    People with Foxtel get use of streaming to 2 devices and they don’t use them.

    Half a city apart, only downfall is that you can’t airplay to TV.

    Find someone who has it and doesn’t use it.

    • We managed to get it to airplay from our macbook to the TV via Apple TV last night, so it is possible. We did get random errors the first couple of times when i started in full screen, but when i let it run for a bit then went to full screen it was ok.

    • I would love to use Go on my parent’s account, but for some reason Foxtel have decided that rooted Android devices are not allowed, even if it’s a supported device. Same deal with Presto apparently.

      Foxtel just has its head stuck up its ass and keeps going further

    • Yeah I use Foxtel GO and I just use an HDMI cable out of my laptop, and the remoteMouse app lets me control my laptop with my phone from the couch. *thumbs up*

  • I bet there are millions of stories like this. But they don’t care. HBO need to bring their now service to the world or allow their shows on Netflix in other regions.

    • Agree. I’ve been trying to find a way to watch HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, with no luck.

      • In the meantime you can enjoy the whole show as a podcast a few days after it’s broadcast. Makes for an enjoyable commute to work!

    • Can’t believe he tried to get the Foxtel crap working. Granted you need an Apple device (iPad, iPhone, computer, Apple TV). But accessing HBO Now in Australia isn’t that hard. Even if you didn’t already have a US iTunes account and had to set one of those up, it still wouldn’t have taken anywhere near this long.

        • I will assume this is a serious question, and you actually have access to an apple device from which to stream to chromecast. Apparently, this is a thing:

          Personally, I’m dubious about how well this would work. I have an Apple TV 3 running a US iTunes account, US Netflix and HBO Now with plex for the files on my media server (there’s a neat hijack you can do on the trailers app in the ATV to get plex). I realise that the Apple ecosystem isn’t for everyone, but since Plex became available on the current Gen AppleTV, it’s a pretty cool little device.

          • Yeah, it’s a serious question. My wife has an iPhone (no US iTunes account, though) and the Netflix app will cast to the Chromecast just fine. In fact it’s better because the Apple version isn’t hard coded to use Google’s DNS servers the way the Android version is. I was wondering if the HBO Now app has built in support for Chromecast the same way the Netflix one does.

          • Well, it wouldn’t be hard to try. You just need to set up an account with a Smart DNS provider (I use getflix.com.au) – a month will cost about $3 I think. Then switch to the US iTunes store on the iPhone and create a fake account with a US address (I use a hotel in New Hampshire as there is no state-based sales tax). Then download the HBO app. I know it does AirPlay from my ipad to my Apple TV, but I don’t have a chromecast to try it with. However, once you’ve signed up to HBO Now via an apple device you can stream from a web browser, so there shoudl NOT be any problems getting it on your chromecast (http://www.theipadguide.com/faq/can-i-stream-hbo-now-chromecast)

            getflix.com.au have pretty comprehensive instructions on setting up a US iTunes account.

          • The HBO Now app doesn’t have Chromecast streaming built into it – probably due to the Apple exclusive deal at the moment. Perhaps it will in 3 months time?

            But what I did was just log into HBO Now on my PC and install the Chromecast extension (called Google cast) and then that worked fine. Only downside is you can’t pause etc from your phone, but it still worked well enough.

    • I agree! Either give us HBO Go OR put Game of Thrones on Presto. Why in this day and age, with the success of Stan and Netflix, does Foxtel management have their heads stuck up their collective butts and haven’t got Game of Thrones on Presto? I’d subscribe in an instant if it was … but as it stands, they don’t get my money.

  • Thank you for the breath or fresh realism here, I’ve been getting soo anooyed with all those articles about ‘why you shouldn’t pirate Game of Thrones’.
    Besides all those issues you point out, Foxtel isn’t even in HD.
    Also they keep saying price isn’t an arguing point because they have apparently brought the price down while GoT is coming out; well I just went on the website and sure enough the $20 premium pack that includes GoT is down from $20 to $5, BUT… You have to pick a genre pack at $25 as well, bringing the total to $30/month for the first 3 months.

    So yea, when I move into my new place, I’ll be getting Netflix, and maybe even Stan, and watching all those shows legally, because if there is a good quality on demand service for a good price I will gladly take it.
    But with Foxtel as it is, looks like I will still be pirating GoT for this season 🙁
    FWIW I own Season 1-3 on DVD, will probably buy 4 soon (have just been lazy) and will likely get 5 when its out too, so I will pay for GoT, eventually. I also own a ton of other TV shows and movies on DVD, and have an insanely large Steam game library (>600 games), so it’s not like I’m just hiding behind the price/availability argument to justify my pirating; I would actually buy it if it was reasonably available…

    • Foxtel isn’t in HD? Yes it is. But it will cost you $10 a month extra for the channels. You are thinking of Foxtel play which is not in HD.

      • Not only is Foxtel Play not in HD, but it’s extremely low bitrate. Pretty much unwatchable.

        • I trialled it. Canceled after a week. Terrible quality, tiny range, pointless service.

        • Unless you record, wait til it’s over, then go back and watch the recording, fast-forwarding through the ads. Which is ALMOST as good as torrenting a file, waiting til it’s downloaded, then going back and watching it… only torrents don’t make you fast-forward through fucking ads. The file would get reported into oblivion if it did.

          • Thankfully you can also download from their “On Demand” or “Catch Up” and that is exactly like a torrent, including no ads.
            But honestly, the only reason I do is because my parents have Foxtel. So, you know. Use what you have. But the moment I move, I guess I’m torrenting it just like everything else.

          • Hm. Didn’t realize it worked like that. Is the IQ-based on-demand better than the Play one? Because I trialed the Play one and it had a grand total of 2-3 episodes available of any given show’s season, and only a handful of shows actually offering that service.

        • GOT was ad-free on Showcase. Although I do take your point, Foxtel is otherwise littered with them.

      • its hd yes, but 720.. i personally dont consider that HD over the 576 we have… SD.

        itunes was full 1080p when we could buy it but because of the exclusivity agreement with foxtel, we cant.

        so eff them…!

      • I can’t get HD Foxtel in my area, only the basic box, can’t even record. Stuck with SD service that I don’t even want but have to have because of GOT and sport.

        • Where’s that (roughly)? Are you outside their satellite area?

          I have Foxtel satellite and I get HD and an IQ2.

          • Well inside, Port Melbourne, but in an apartment block. Not allowed satellite and for some reason no IQ, infrastructure doesn’t support it.

      • Neither is Presto, which was shilled as ‘the best streaming service’ on Sunrise this morning :/

    • Ironically with most of those ‘you shouldnt watch GOT episodes’ sites, if you look back far enough in their histories, you’ll find either:

      a.) Articles subtly telling you HOW to go about pirating GoT (articles about torrent clients etc)
      b.) Articles straight up talking about places like Piratebay and how people get their shows from there
      c.) Articles talking about how easy it is to torrent shows these days, in some cases with outright links to these sites.

      So when I’m seeing certain sites now getting all pious, it sickens me.

      • A lot of people have been positing that it may have something to do with each paper’s owning body having a stake in one of those less than Netflix streaming services. Brisbane Times has been annoying the shit out of it’s readers lately, especially with upping the fear factor around Dallas Buyers Club. But apparently Brisbane Times’ owner has a stake in Stan, so…

  • TL;DR: Foxtel has a service problem.

    Yes they do.

    I signed up to have a satellite service installed FOUR WEEKS ago solely to watch GoT and the F1. I’ve had two installations cancelled the day before the install date due to “insufficient resources”.

    I’ll continue to source the above content “elsewhere” until they get their shit together. Hopefully the IQ3 isn’t as bad as the rap it’s getting…

    • Search their terms and conditions. You may be entitled to reimbursement via their customer service guarantee. Telstra took a month longer than they said they would installing my service and I got $650 credit via CSG. Otherwise speak to the media ombudsman. Guaranteed you’re legally entitled to compensation.

  • I don’t pirate games because I have Steam.*
    I don’t pirate music because I have Spotify.
    I have been pirating TV shows, but now I’m planning to sign up to Netflix in the next few weeks (waiting on a new TV), so I expect that will stop. Except for of course, Game of Thrones.

    The point being: I’m willing to pay for a good service that is reasonably priced. I have my money sitting here, just give me a way to download/stream it day 1 without an Australian Tax and you can have my money.

    * I have to work around Steam’s Australian Tax sometimes, not through piracy but through grey market keys.

    • Nah dude. They still have to ship it to you through the wires and tubes. That Australian Tax is 119% legit.

    • Be careful about grey market keys. Far Cry 4 and Sniper Elite 3 grey market keys were cancelled by the publishers. Granted, Ubisoft eventually backed down, but it’s still risky.

      • Yeah I’ve heard of that. I only usually grey market from the states though, which I believe isn’t normally a risk for key cancellation. I don’t mind paying fair price for a new game (~$60).

        • That should be fine. It’s the places that offer it for sub ~$35 that you need to be careful of.

  • This here is the biggest problem with HBO’s exclusive deal with Foxtel. If Foxtel isn’t a suitable option for you, there is no legitimate plan B. If they put GoT on Google Play the day after it aired then I would happily purchase each and every episode there. But it will be a cold day in hell before I ever give another cent to Foxtel.

    • Hell yes, I’d happily buy the season pass on iTunes (if I weren’t prevented from doing so by Foxtel’s exclusivity arrangement) even if it meant a delay of a few days or a week.

      But i’m not able to do that at all. I have to wait until after the season is ended, at which point all the major plot details are revealed and spoiled on the internet in letters a mile wide.

      At the end of the day I’m going to buy it, I have season 1-4 in blu-ray. I’ll have season 5 on blu-ray in 11 months time too. But that’s the closest thing to a “plan B” you’ve got.

      • Yep. That’s why I completely ignore HBO when they bleat about piracy. If you want people to pay for your stuff then you need to take it to where the customers are, not lock it up behind Foxtel and expect the customer to come to you.

        • Well in fairness, HBO (at least the part of it responsible for Game of Thrones) don’t really mind the piracy since it means their show is popular. They know that it will turn into DVD/blu-ray sales down the line and don’t worry too much – which is why I doubt it’ll turn into another #iiDallas issue.

    • Well, if you don’t mind getting around geoblocking, there’s nothing to stop you from paying HBO directly for HBO NOW. Not quite as legit as Foxtel, but it’s a breach of Terms of Service only – not illegal.

      • Yeah, I’ll probably take that up once it’s available on Android (or, even better, PS4). Problem is that 3 month deal will conveniently keep it out of my reach until after this season of GoT has finished, so I probably won’t bother until season 6 next year.

        • Yeah, that sucked a bit. Would have been nice if they’d released to current gen consoles at the same time. You have to wonder how much money changes hands in these exclusivity deals!

        • Well, if you know someone with an Apple device, just set up a subscription in their device. Once you have a subscription, you can access HBO NOW from any web browser (not just an apple device). You only need (access to) an Apple device to register/subscribe.

  • You must have read the same think piece in a certain Sydney newspaper as I did. It boiled down to “easier than ever to pay”: $90 for three months of Foxtel Play versus setting up a VPN and an US HBO Go account (if you have an Apple device).

    I had the discussion with the wife that if I could pay $3 an episode, $30 for the season, then I would do it without hesitation. We’ve purchased every season of GoT on blu-ray and it’s a wonderful product (even after the 11 month wait). $90 for one show is not good value.

    Instead I’m waving to you across the bay whilst enjoying Daredevil in HD on whatever device I choose. Proud subscriber to PlayStation Plus, Spotify and Netflix as well.

    • You must have read the same think piece in a certain Sydney newspaper as I did. It boiled down to “easier than ever to pay”: $90 for three months of Foxtel Play versus setting up a VPN and an US HBO Go account (if you have an Apple device).

      That newspaper must be owned by News Corp as well.

    • Is Daredevil as good as I hope? I watched Kimmy Schmidt and couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying that.

      • We are two eps in and it is pretty good so far. We love most thing Marvel so I may biased, but it was a good watch. It is especially good that there are 13 eps waiting there to watch rather than the slow burn you get with weekly release shows. (Personally been laughing a lot to the IT Crowd…. Just finished season 1 which was great)

      • First couple of episodes were pretty good but its definitely picking up steam now and getting better with each episode. (I’m 6 episodes in now)

  • Just use FOXTEL Go. Plug in your tablet or laptop into your TV via VGA and bam!

    Just got to find someone with a Foxtel account who doesn’t use GO.

  • This is the exact problem with foxtel. They are told again and again by various companies, including google what their problem is and what do they offer us?
    $25 pack. The price is better yes, but you don’t get to pick and choose what you want.
    They’ve advertised their drama channel. Considering that the only drama my Mother and I watch is on AMC’s channel, (the killing and the walking dead), 90% of the channels I would be paying for, I wouldn’t use.
    I quite enjoy some obscure shows, stuff that is not really high on Foxtel’s and Netflixs’ list of things to stream, so I would probably have to buy several packs, just to try and get the shows I want.
    Foxtel are so out of touch and are blaming everyone else for their crappy service.

  • Great write up – but isn’t admitting to illegally downloading on a public forum less than smart ?

  • That’s what you get for recording The Addams Family instead of Addams Family Values.

  • Here’s the thing Mark, you are paying for it now.

    Whether you torrent or not to see the content is irrelevant.

    You have paid for the service (essentially the show via Foxtel), if you now go pirate the show to access it, who cares? The content producers get their few dollars (and the middle men, unfortunately and undeservedly reap theirs).

    • Not entirely true unfortunately. Unsure of the specifics with foxtel, but I understand that with Netflix, money gets distributed based on number of watches of a particular show/movie, rather than just being paid to have the show on netflix. Or maybe a bit of both.

      • Foxtel pay for the exclusive rights to air the show. Paying Foxtel for a subscription = paying for the show in this sense.
        Netflix is a different beast, for the reasons you outlined.

    • Actually he hasn’t paid for shit. His brother paid for it, and he’s still stealing it either way as he doesn’t live at the same residential address to be a legitimate second account holder.

      • Okay, lets be pedantic then. His brother has paid Foxtel (who knows if Mark has some gentlemans agreement regarding the cost of Foxtel, maybe they are splitting the bill?, but lets assume his brother is paying for it).

        Foxtel has paid for the rights. He has attempted to watch it legitimately. He has technically paid for it (or his brother if we want to be pedantic). Whether he then views through this specific channel or not becomes somewhat irrelevant if we are basing the argument on the premise of ensuring content creators get some $$ for their art.

        • Realistically though, he’s breaking the TOS. It’s no more legal than me paying for American Netflix, Hulu, etc, or buying my games from the US Xbox store. If I’m a geopirate, what he’s doing isn’t really any better at all.

  • “Through a superhuman act of will I also mustered the resolve to not tweet about this decision.”

    Out of everything, this is what I’m the most proud of you for.

  • I honestly believe that Foxtel doesn’t understand how people consume media any more.

    People like Netflix because you can log in and watch what you want. There are no packages. Their most popular programs aren’t hidden behind upgrades.

    You go to the Foxtel Play website and one of the main links is “START BUILDING YOUR PACKAGE NOW”. You have to start with a basic package that costs twice as much as Netflix and contains mostly filler.

    The problem is that Foxtel won’t change this. Not until they are desperate.

    • They really do rely on either baby boomers or a large group of homesharers all splitting the bill. It”s annoying as shit at the moment. But in a few years, they’ll have to wise up or just die. Even bogans are getting into Netflix.

    • Yeah, they have to bundle the crap channels or no-one would buy them, and then no-one would advertise on them. It’s not a recipe for long-term success though, particularly in light of what the competition is doing.

  • Did you really expect anything better from a company owned by Rupert Murdoch?

    If we all speak with our wallets and don’t pay for Foxtel one of two things will happen, they’ll either realize that they have to make drastic changes, or they will be stubborn and still keep on doing the same thing and eventually they’ll fade away.

    I know what I’d like to happen, but my money’s on the latter.

    • Or they’ll use their lobbying power to convince the government to legislate consumer behaviour to protect the market instead of letting the market adapt to consumer behaviour.

      Which is what’s happening now.

      • Yeah. Instead of changing their archaic pricing model and service to something people want to use, they are just complaining to the government that people are finding other ways to watch content and whinging to them to do something about it to force people to sign up for their archaic pricing model and service.

        • When Tony Abbott flies all the way to New York to meet important people from around the world, who does he have lunch with? I mean, can he be any more blatant?

        • Their newest strategy was to lobby for the govt to introduce the newly dubbed “Netflix Tax” which will add GST. Their strategy is to make things harder for competition instead of easier for us and themselves.

        • Nothing new there, hell the Australian Liberal Party evolved from the Protectionist Party of the post Federation years. I find it pretty disgusting as an actual liberal that those cons are anything but truth in advertising.

  • I’ve had foxtel for years and I use it for some shows but others I still download. Foxtel is unreliable though, quite often I will series link\record a program and it will just vanish and not record, bad luck if it isn’t airing again. I’ve also had random failed recordings with a generic error and when you call them they offer no support beyond saying we will reset your box which should stop it in the future but bad luck for the show you wanted. I mainly have it for the sports which aren’t broadcast on free to air.

    • And you still get ads during that sport, don’t you? I am pretty sure that Foxtel only exists to supplement their sports, nowadays.

      • They don’t bother me too much in sports as these days sports are set up with windows for advertising so it isn’t impacting the play (plus can grab a drink/food/toilet). The ads during tv shows on foxtel can be annoying on some stations though….

        • Yeah. A lot of people don’t realise that TV is made to have ads. Back when this stuff was ad free it meant I’d watch a show and then there would be nothing on TV for the next ten minutes. Either that or it’d be a channel that just went show to show which put it totally out of sync with everything else. It meant watching the second half of something just so I wouldn’t miss the start of the next show or watching just totally amazingly bad filler content (that they repeated like 20 times a day).
          Granted the ads they play now seem to go beyond regular annoying TV ads and the money they make selling ad space hasn’t reduced the price of subscriptions at all.

          • Going from foxtel to free to air makes you notice the difference in ad break lengths though, free to air breaks seem at least double what the ads are on foxtel at times.

          • Back when we had foxtel it felt like foxtel had more ad breaks but less ads in that break.

            I don’t know how it is today though…

          • Free to air advertising is down to time of day and what the companies pay for their ads for “peak” periods. They could do all their advertising in one block and get rid of the televangelists in the morning if it was cost effective for them. SBS used to only have adverts between shows which worked pretty well, gave a chance to make a sandwich or some such between one show and the next, or actually sit and watch the ads if you didn’t need to run for the toilet anyway.

  • No doubt if the lawyers read this they’ll just come to the conclusion that you pirated it and conveniently ignore all your trouble trying to watch it legally. Telstra, and as a result Foxtel, have terrible customer service. It’s been born out of, as you say, complacency in an industry that has until recently had no competition. It’s like the taxi industry and Uber except at least Foxtel hasn’t tried to make Netflix illegal, although they did their best to get the NBN whittled down to a subpar network in an attempt to keep their cable network as the main thing in Australia.

    I definitely torrent because of the convenience of it over the price. I’ll buy the blurays when they come out because I love the show. I also, like you, pay for Spotify and Netflix because they’re pretty damned convenient in providing a lot of content that I wish at my finger tips. I don’t want to sign up to Foxtel, a) because it’s expensive and b) because it’s outdated. If this was the 90s, it might be fine, but today I expect (even in Australia which is technologically backwards compared to America or Europe) content available when I want it.

    A couple of years ago I fancied like watching the Australian Grand Prix but my TV isn’t hooked up to an aerial as I detest free to air TV, too many adverts. It was available to stream on the Ch 10 website. ‘That’s fantastic’ I thought. What did I get? Crappy stream of the tv including adverts. That’s not so fantastic. I really hope that streaming services are the death of pay tv. Pay tv only serves the fat cats who’ve been sitting on top of a monopoly for far too long and have the Government in their pocket as well

  • Did you try it in IE Mark? /rimshot 🙂

    I, like many others, have absolutely no reason to sign up to Foxtel for anything asides from GoT. HBO needs to accept that allowing Foxtel to continue it’s current model is causing a big chunk of this problem. Why pay huge sums to subscribe for one single show?

    Oh, the other thing that peeved me last night was minutes after the episode had finished news sites were openly discussing it in detail. With no better distribution method they had just spoiled the show for all those who won’t get it until DVD/BR. The same goes for social media. Instant spoilers, but no instant delivery (without piracy).

    At least the ABC gets it with Doctor Who.

    • They will scold you and berate you for not paying for it. And then punish everyone that didn’t pirate it by posting spoilers upon spoilers. Ludicrous, right?
      I saw one news site post a “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Download Those Game of Thrones Leaks”. Really?!

    • HBO needs to accept that allowing Foxtel to continue it’s current model is causing a big chunk of this problem.

      But HBO doesn’t have a problem here. Foxtel stupidly pay them truckloads of money for theoretically exclusive rights to the show. Fans who don’t want to pay for Foxtel pirate it. Everybody wins except the people trying to use the show to strong arm their subscribers into upgrading their packages.
      I mean for all the conflict nobody really takes it out on the show itself. After three (?) seasons of Foxtel hitting this issue really hard it hasn’t impacted Game of Throne’s popularity at all. All the negative publicity lands straight on Foxtel.
      I’m really hoping that with Stan, Presto, Netflix and Free to Air offering a high combined price for non-exclusive rights to these show they can manage to drag them out of Foxtel’s grasp, but from HBO’s perspective this works brilliantly.

  • Through a superhuman act of will I also mustered the resolve to not tweet about this decision.
    You’re a good man, Mark.

  • I guess I’m glad I haven’t really watched ‘normal’ TV in a decade and spend most of my time watching internet content.

  • “Back in my day, we had to wait for a particular time to watch a TV show, and if you missed it you couldn’t watch it until they decided to show it again!”

    This is what Netflix has made regular TV look like.

    I’m not going to pirate Game of Thrones, I’m not going to pay for it either (at least at launch), because I have plenty of other stuff I can watch.

    I might buy the DVD/BluRay box sets if they’re lucky, but I really can’t be arsed jumping through a bunch of hoops to watch 1 TV show when there’s plenty of other TV shows that don’t need you to complete an obstacle course in order to watch them.

    • “Back in my day, we had to wait for a particular time to watch a TV show, and if you missed it you couldn’t watch it until they decided to show it again!”

      It’s interesting to see progress happening. We are straddling the divide between the old and the new. An exciting time to be alive.

    • And then we got VCRs with record scheduling. It’s how I got to watch most of the afternoon shows I liked because I had a late bus, a long ride home, and then another 10-20 minutes run to the house depending on weather. On a good day I might get 5 minutes of Spellbinders.

  • I feel bad saying this but I agree with this article 100%. The main reason I feel bad is because I watched my husband read this article and visibly wilt. He works for FOXTEL, and I think we both know what he’s doing to be primarily dealing with today. I really hope the higher ups at the company pull their bloody fingers out, not just for the customers but for the front of house staff who cop a roasting every day at work. Hmph.

    • Hats off to your husband for putting up with this crap today. I know all too well what it’s like being hamstrung by big business decision!

  • Good to know it’s not just me. I’ve already complained about this on a Lifehacker thread (because, sue me, I’m grouchy ATM), but I tried to use Foxtel Play on XB1 for two hours and it was a disaster. Nothing works. Left me wishing I’d torrented.

  • So, I’ve already got a proper Foxtel account (dat EPL). I’ve got access to their Box Sets channel, which has GoT. I got up yesterday morning, set it to record GoT at 11am, then went about my work. Came back at 7pm, fired it up and there it was : ad-free and in HD.

    Which was actually less work than pirating, so…yeah.

    • I was able to sit down at 12 and just use the “Catch Up” and watch it after an episode of Buzzcocks.

    • Yep. And series linked. It’ll all be there As If By Magic.

      So for those of us who have Foxtel because SPORTS it makes sense.

      It’s just a nightmare for everyone else. 🙁

  • Sorry Mark but all I was thinking when reading your issues with voice commands was “I’ve got a problem with my goggomobile…. G O G G O, “

  • During a colossal whinge with a respected colleague this morning he said something along the lines of, “you’re complaining because you didn’t get exactly what you wanted when you wanted it.”
    How on earth is that not a valid complaint? There are services available which DO give me exactly what I want, when I want it. Legally, too!

    I will forever love Gabe Newell’s wise words on piracy: “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,” he said. “If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.”
    Why isn’t Steam TV a thing, yet?

  • I guess I am in the minority here, I have had no issues with Foxtel, and I just started watching GoT. It has worked great on foxtelgo or through the boxsets channel.

    on that note saying you have a high call volume and then hanging up is crap. If they are suffering some type of outage they should at least announce that, or post it on their general error website. If they did a better job of stating that information their call volume probably would have dropped to a tolerable level.

    I would make one request to every one that calls for support (for any thing) don’t take it out on the person that picked up the phone. They are not the reason you are having issues (unless you personally pissed them off) and most will do every thing they can to fix your issue if they can. Sure they may do it simply so they don’t have to be on the phone with you but you still get what you want.

    • Unfortunately foxtel go is different to foxtel play, which is where the issue lies.

  • Like you, I made a decision that I would pay for this season rather than torrenting it. I looked at getting Foxtel Play, I really did. But $30/mo (up to $45/mo after the first 2), in Standard Def, and it’s not even an On Demand service. Nope, not for me.
    So I then spent the next hour setting up HBO Now with a US iTunes account and configuring the Apple TV to work over my VPN. $15/mo for an On Demand service in HD – even if we call it $20AU after conversion rates and VPN costs, that’s a price I’m happy to pay.
    And to boot I now get access to the rest of HBO’s fantastic library.

  • Just sign up for HBO Now – I signed up and watched GoT and Silicon Valley season premieres last night with no issue. Real Time is also available 🙂

    • Silicon Valley is the shit! I’m surprised it hasn’t come up more (even as an aside) in these discussions. When they announced GoT and SV were premiering on the same night, I cheered.

  • Foxtel simply do not get it. They operate under a monopoly in the pay tv space (really, they have zero competition of note) and think that their shit doesn’t stink and that they have a licence to print money forever.

    Their days are numbered unless…

    A. They drop the channel bundling and moronic pricing structure and give customers the option to build their own channel packages.
    B. They go further than A. and give us the ability to simply pick and choose what we want down to the TV shows themselves.

    In Canada at the moment, I read that the Government there is FORCING Pay TV networks to unbundle the package systems used as the providers are too butt stubborn to do it on their own.

    Will our clueless Government grow the balls to do that? Not bloody likely.

    Foxtel is in its death throes. I doubt anyone there has the smarts to retool that company so it can stay current past the next 12-18 months.

    • Foxtel is in its death throes. I doubt anyone there has the smarts to retool that company so it can stay current past the next 12-18 months.
      As much as I’d love that… they have powerful government lobbying to help them survive well past that, plus a stranglehold on sports, which apparently a lot of people in this country care about for some reason.

      Also, the larger something is, the longer it can take for all the organs to get the message when it does actually die. And don’t forget the power of tradition. The grey vote is strong. If something is new or even remotely related to technology, there’s a large chunk of the population will say fuggeddaboudit.

      Sadly, I think Foxtel will continue to survive much longer than they deserve to.

      • It has got to be Sports that are keeping them alive. It’s literally the only thing they don’t advertise, because they know they don’t need to.
        Also, it would be really nice if Tony was a little less obvious about doing everything Rupert wants of him.

        • Yes they do advertise it.




          Seared in my brain. Even though I watch this stuff anyway.

          • Possibly you only see the ads if you’re already watching a sport-related channel, @drumrbaxj.
            I know when I had Foxtel and have seen it at friends who still subscribe (suckers), you tend to see a fucking shitload of ads for either the channel you’re already watching, or something similar. Like, if you watch Comedy Channel, you’ll see a lot of ads for the comedy shows on Fox8. Same deal with drama/lifestyle.

          • Correct. Eurosport regularly informs me how much cycling is on Eurosport (250 hours!), during the cycling. Good to know.

  • Paying for TV also isn’t ideal. The real problem is the FTA networks not giving a good selection of shows and showing them on time.

    I hope Google uses it’s might and buys all these shows and puts them on Youtube.
    Let the greedy corporates pay for it all with there advertising dollars.

    Make it like f2p games, watch the shows for free with ad breaks, or pay to remove them. Also allow the whole world to watch it as soon as it comes out at the same time.

  • “If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.” Gabe forgot the part where they charge you 2-3 times the price depending on the region. Eg. Australia

  • All through my life I’ve had access to free tv. Free, easily consumable and fun entertainment that we’ve all come to love over the years. But then, they put ads all over it. Then they messed up the programming frequently. Then they started airing endless repeats. Why did they do this? Do they want us to hate free tv?
    Thankfully there are now ways to enjoy the free tv I’ve been conditioned to expect, but without all the terrible things I don’t like. Thanks free tv, for setting up expectations that no longer serve yourselves.

  • The problem I have is that with a limited amount of download I use less data by streaming then watching Netflix as it is compressed if they could only find a way of downloading programs in rar and then uncompressing on the fly.

  • Signed up for Foxtel Play after talking to someone from Telstra last night who said I had to wait till the morning to sign up for the proper Foxtel because we have Foxtel over fiber.
    Took 5mins to setup and purchase and quality was what it would have been had I downloaded it.
    But the price isn’t worth it. Will cancel after GoT and probably get Netflix instead. If only Telstra had unmetered Netflix instead of Presto :/

  • most robot phone services, if you just mash # # # # # # # # it goes through to a person. 🙂

    • That seems to work for a majority of the computer controlled services… Though a few will just get confused and hang up.

    • I was surprised to accidentally discover that, “OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” seems to go through to an operator with voice-detection services.

      • i’ve had one service when asking me for account details (i wasnt a customer) and i yelled at it saiyng “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO” because it kept asking stupid shit, put me through to an operator.

        • The straw that broke the camel’s back was Jetstar. Before my outburst:

          “Please say your booking number.”
          “F. Five. D. Seven. H. Three.”
          “Was that: S, three, H, nine, F, seven? Please say yes, or no.”
          “Please say your booking number.”
          “F… Five… D… Seven… H… Three.”
          “Was that: C, Eight, A–”
          “Please say your booking number.”
          “Foxtrot. Five. Delta. Seven. Hotel. Three.”
          “Was that: Q, Nine, W…” (I shit you not, an actual Q.)
          “OK. Hold on and I’ll see if I can find someone to help.”

  • Fun fact: Having a torrent client installed is not a crime. Using it to download illegal content is. I personally use my Torrent client to download Linux distros.

    I’m not going to get the show on Foxtel… If it is any good, then I will catch it when it comes to DVD or Bluray. No TV show is ever worth buying before it comes to Bluray or DVD.

  • The only TV channel I watch anymore is SBS2. Vikings is on there plus if you are the one and other great shows. I’m online for absolutely everything else. SBS luckily put all the shows I like one after another with shirt commercial breaks. Foxtel had too many commercials. Online streaming services are far superior for me to use because of this. If Foxtel doesn’t change and has another hissy fit I will have no sympathy

  • This post made me furious. I can’t believe you had to experience all of that bullshit when trying to pay for a service. And then to have a colleague tell you that your problem is that you want everything when you want it?

    Well, no shit. That’s the day and age we live in, why should I have to watch something when Foxtel tells me to? I’m paying for their service, it should be my decision when I walk away with the product. I would be outraged if I were to go into a retail shop, pay for an item only to be told I could have it only when they deemed I should.

    It’s commendable you gave it a shot in the first place. I find this whole piracy “debate” to be a joke.

  • Getting everything when you want it is not entirely true.

    On Netflix, we have to wait for the episodes (Better Call Saul) or the entire season (Orange is the new black S3) to be released. Same goes for GoT on the HBO On Demand service. You wanted to the see the leaked episodes before it was released.

    On Spotify, songs or maybe entire albums sometimes go offline because of licensing.

    If you waited for the service to publish the episode or the movie (whatever goes) you would be able to see it as intended by the publisher – your colleague is right. This was only because you wanted to watch it right here and now.

    It DOES suck that the website had problems and it does suck they didn’t have proper service, but my best bet: website was down because of the traffic caused by the season and new subscribers that might only sub to watch GoT. And everyone was calling in because of the problems with the website and presumably the service.

    Patience is key.

    • I’m not sure if you were too lazy to read the article properly or whether you just failed to comprehend it.

      He was trying to watch ONE episode. The episode that has been screened on HBO and Foxtel. He wanted to use Foxtel’s service to watch the content that they offer. He couldn’t.

      If that’s not the textbook definition of terrible service, then I don’t know what is.

  • This is article just reminds me of a TED talk I watched ages ago on piracy. I can’t remember who it was giving the talk but the final line of it was simple and elegant.

    “instead of trying to find a way to make people pay for our content, we should find a way to let them pay for it.’

    Mark you tried to do the right thing and you were punished for it. you are god damn right that Foxtel has a service problem.

  • I too tried to get Foxtel, after signing up at a pop up booth I was told it would take three weeks for a technician to come to my home to set it up. Three weeks? Fine, ok. Six weeks later, I tell them (after all the BS sales pitches of upgrading your service) cancel it. Terrible service.

  • The idiots who produce these shows are constantly complaining about us evil Aussies stealing their money i.e. pirating, they spend millions trying to get our government the legislate to force IPS’s to block suspected illegal down-loaders, obviously they are too stupid to realise if they got into bed with sites like Pirate Bay, and set up a pay system at a reasonable price a huge percentage of the piracy would stop

    e.g. ~ They set up a system with Pirate Bay or other download sites where the end user pays for example $10.00 Aud per month with 10% i.e. $1 commission to the service providing the downloads. Suddenly a lot of us Evil Aussies would be paying for a service which is reasonably priced, which means the companies producing these shows are making more money right along with the illegal download sites, the companies producing these shows are spending less money because they are not chasing illegal down loaders.

    But hey what do I know I am just an evil Aussie who downloads free to air shows at least 1 of which was according to the advertising “Fast tracked to Australia” (18 Months after I saw the first episode and was halfway through season 2)

  • i see the problem being with the monopoly.. oops, i mean “Exclusive IP Agreement”..

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