Foxtel Now Is Playing Into The Hands Of Pirates

Image: HBO

Foxtel Now was supposed to be the solution to all of Foxtel's problems — a new streaming service with a new identity, for all Australians. And, for a while, it was great. But come last night and come Game of Thrones, it died. And now the arguments of pirates, so close to being comprehensively defeated, restart anew.

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This is partly understandable. Unprecedented demand crashed HBO's streaming service, HBO Now, in the US. Unprecedented makes sense — it's the second last season of the world's most popular television show — but that's not the same thing as unexpected.

Foxtel's network engineers should have forecasted unprecedented demand. They should have expected it. And because they didn't, expectant customers were disappointed.

Foxtel Now has had a relatively easy honeymoon period for its launch — no huge event TV to stress test the servers it's carried across from the days when it was called Foxtel Play and Foxtel Go. Six weeks since it debuted with fanfare, Game of Thrones has made it fall over. What happens when The Walking Dead, equally popular, comes back while Game of Thrones is also being streamed?

Foxtel's media department issued a mea culpa late last night, in a press release titled "Game of Thrones Phenomenon Crash Sites Across the Globe!" It mentioned the fact that the number of viewers had sent even HBO into a tailspin. But what else could you do, apart from apologise for your service?

Foxtel spends $1.6 billion on content every year. Foxtel has the best breadth and depth of content in Australia. Foxtel outspends its competitors Netflix and Stan by more than 10 times when it comes to acquiring first-run, premiere TV shows and movies like Game of Thrones. And Foxtel has an excellent infrastructure cable TV network, and has had for years.

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But it still doesn't have the streaming product that we want to use. They've tried to fix it, but they still screwed up. And it'll get better with time, as it has in the past — from HD streaming to 4K streaming, offline downloads, and so on. Foxtel has promised as much. But pirates' arguments only need the smallest provocation to consider themselves justified.

For what it's worth, when I wanted to watch Game of Thrones last night, I went to bed and switched on my TV and powered on my PS4, jumped into the Foxtel Now app and navigated to Game of Thrones. And it worked! The streaming quality was alright — not up to the standards of a pirated 1080p copy, but more convenient. And convenience is the keystone, the lynchpin, for Foxtel Now. It's even in the name. Now. When your service crashes, when it isn't now, that's when people are right to complain.

And that's when people will pirate Game of Thrones, and feel justified in doing it.

When I wrote how laughably easy it was to get around Australia's site blocking laws, I got an email from John Jarratt — y'know, Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek — "if you're good at it, it's easy to break into a car in 30 seconds and steal it. Does that make it right because you can?"

That argument doesn't hold sway with pirates, though. A lot of People On The Internet, who like me grew up with Limewire and Kazaa and Usenet and Bit-Torrent, need reasons not to pirate. Piracy is their default. Netflix's Australian launch ticked the right boxes: price, availability of content, reliability. Foxtel Now has an affordable tier, and it has so much content, but it's not reliable. Not after last night.

Imagine another world: imagine an alternate history where Foxtel Now didn't shit the bed last night. Imagine the press release we'd be writing about instead! "Foxtel Now Had Its Busiest Night Ever". "Foxtel Now Proved Itself Streaming Game Of Thrones." "Foxtel Now Finally Proves That Streaming Is The Answer To Piracy".

"Foxtel Now Has Left Pirates Dead In The Water".


    its no different than Ticketek some how never managing a presale right. Or the launch of any online game, or big patch day. No matter how much they should be predicted they never are. Or ATO's bungle the other week. The list goes on. Pirates want to make this as proof as merely about Foxtel and prove its evilness but come on its 2017. Right or wrong it is very much a sign of the times, it is as predictable as the sun shining. People have a tendency see a new event in isolation. PS There is a difference between condoning it not working constantly and just having a realistic expectation of the nature of the world.

    Pirates will use this to once again condone their actions. Sure Foxtel are rubbish but there is a choice not to use them and wait merely eight weeks. People will still pirate because they some how thinks it hurts them, that some how think they are making a grand statement that will throw Foxtel into the future with us. (if only) when in fact, all their piracy has ever done, other than give them access to something they have no rights to for free, is just hurting the freedom of Australians internet. We have already seen it lead to censorship.

      Wait 8 weeks? You just can't do that with GoT, sorry mate.

        I believe once the season is over iTunes/Google/PSN/Xbox Live begin selling the whole season as a download.

          Thats too late though. If you wanted to avoid spoilers you'd have to stay off the internet for weeks.

            yeah see Game of Thrones is what we called a luxury item, you dont actually need it to survive the real world. Whats next gee sorry I stole your wallet stranger, its just I was hungry and left mine at home.

            Spoilers are no more a justification for piracy, than Foxtel being all kinds of stupid and/or evil. They are all just excuses.

              No, I don't need it to survive, but its my favourite show of all time and I'm gonna watch it ASAP after it airs via the easiest method available. That happens to be through "other providers". You can white knight, downvote and call us entitled all you like but I don't care and neither does anyone else. When the season finishes I'll buy it to support the show.

              Whats next? Stealing wallets? Don't be ridiculous lol. You sound like the piracy ad from the 90s.

              However, if I was a wizard and could conjure money out of nothing? I'd do that all day.

                you know you CAN have a decent respectful conversation with some you disagree with without resorting the 'white knight' style of ridiculousness. What next through in a snowflake or a SJW, Seriously it just makes any good point you COULD be trying to make get lost.

                  Apologies. Though to be fair you were suggesting downloading GoT leads to mugging people for their lunch money, which also makes any good point you could be trying to make get lost.

                  What's next is episode 2 next week btw ;)

              The problem with your argument, with Foxtel's argument, with Mick Taylor's argument (from the article) is that you keep making this issue a thing of ethics and misunderstand the people criticising the argument as though they were denying there's an ethics issue or worse, defending it. You seem to expect the only acceptable answer from us to be "yes, yessss, eeeeevil, the lot of them, thieevesss, burn them, kill them precious," while entirely missing that obtaining such vigorous agreement from us does absolutely NOTHING to solve the problem.

              When we tell you "pirates don't care for your ethics discourse, they care about convenience, good service and fair prices" we are NOT defending pirates. We are explaining you that you have to win their hearts, as attempts to stomp them out have been proved useless once and again.

    And now the arguments of pirates, so close to being comprehensively defeated, restart anew.
    Yeeeah... Maybe when Foxtel Now is at the level and quality of service of other platforms like Netflix, but it wont be the case anytime soon.

    It's actually fairly appalling that platforms like Netflix provide better service, quality and pricing to Australians than platforms like Foxtel do.

    Not sure if Foxtel Now is easier. In the time you take to sign up you could set it up so that when you get home a 1080p copy is sitting on your home media server. I bet that has better playback controls than Foxtel Now.

    Netflix also massively outspend them on content. The last figure I saw was something like $6 billion on original content alone. Not to mention all the stuff by other creators.

    I tried it last night and it worked fine. I'm happy enough to pay them the $15 for a month or two until GoT ends then ditch it. But that only holds true as long as the service actually works. If I run into issues like those reported on Monday night then it'll be back to the high seas for me.

    As a foxtel now user who hasn't caught up to GoT I was bugged to find I couldn't watch anything on Monday, however interestingly I found on Tuesday (and even still now) that they had removed all package restrictions, so now I could watch the entire plethora of their offerings for my meek $10.

    They mentioned in their press release the problem was with the program that determines what account has what content being overloaded (as opposed to streaming servers, which is probably where they expected and planned for the increase). So my guess is they turned it off to prevent the issue again.

    So with regards to Walking Dead being on at the same time as GoT, they appear to have a release valve that would solve the overloading issue. Just give everyone everything.

    These Foxtel ads masquerading as articles are a bit much

      1000% sure no company would sponsor any content that paints their products in a bad light. We've said this before, but any sponsored content is marked as such (in the tags, or with a breakout box, or advertorial bylines).

      Also, why would Foxtel promote anything that points out how flawed its own software is?

        was being slightly facetious

        but seen a few articles lately where the quality of Foxtel is being massively overstated

        You only need read the comments to see it isn't a view shared by many

    This isn't an issue of a person's default mode being to pirate, but rather that local companies' default mode is to do the bare minimum. They don't seem to understand that today's users are expecting a level of quality for which local providers simply aren't catering. It should be an embarrassment to these companies that we can get better content from overseas than that which they provide locally!
    I even dare to say that most people aren't against paying for good quality services and content, but if our local companies aren't providing it, we'll definitely go elsewhere to find it. It's not hard to understand.

    The way I see it, the difference between the way Netflix and Foxtel operate is that Netflix seems to put more effort into the user experience in order gain and keep customers happy, letting its features do the work of promoting the service; whereas Foxtel appears to do the bare minimum.
    If local providers actually spent time and money on creating a service that puts the customer's experience first, at competitive prices they could have every Australian on the service and rake in the dough. But no, a bare-bones experience for fast profits is their default mode.

    Imagine another world: imagine an alternate history where Foxtel Now didn't shit the bed last night. Imagine the press release we'd be writing about instead! "Foxtel Now Had Its Busiest Night Ever". "Foxtel Now Proved Itself Streaming Game Of Thrones." "Foxtel Now Finally Proves That Streaming Is The Answer To Piracy".It would have to be an alternate universe as well where a positive story generates more clicks than a negative one. ^_-

    On the more serious side though, doesn't this actually prove streaming is an answer to piracy? There wouldn't be unprecedented demand if people were pirating.

    Have they ditched the requirement to use the Telstra Box to get HD yet? As until they do that I'm not interested, although I mainly want it for the Formula 1, not GoT.

    What's hilarious is they confirmed on their twitter that the 720p stream isn't available on foxtel go until teusday/wednesday. They had a meltdown over standard def.

      What the hell is 720p?

      Seriously though. It needs to be 1080p if not 4K in this day and age.

    I read that as "Foxtel Now Is Playing Into The Hands Of Pirates" and my knee-jerk response was "when haven they not? :P

    I pirated everything, mostly music.....but since I got iTunes 8 years ago, I haven't pirated a single damn song or album. All bought. Why? Because everything is there in a one stop shop and I can have it instantaneously. Convenience.

    If there was some way to unify all the services into a hub, you pay for the hub and your money gets divvied up into which services you watch shows on, for a good price.....I'm in. The thought of having to pay for multiple services for certain shows? Yeah fuck that shit.

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