The wait is finally almost over: on July 17, the seventh season of HBO's award-winning fantasy series Game Of Thrones will premiere around the world. It promises to be the most action-packed season yet, with the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens and White Walkers all marching towards their penultimate endgames. We have no idea who's going to survive and we can't wait to find out!
In Australia, the only "official" way to watch Game Of Thrones at the same time as the US is via Foxtel. However, there are a few options available that don't require you to sign up to a costly pay TV subscription. In addition, Foxtel Now has new entry-level pricing to coincide with the return of the show. Here are all the ways to watch Game Of Thrones Season 7 in Australia.
Game Of Thrones On Pay TV
As we pointed out last year, only an idiot would sign up for Foxtel's $46 Drama Combo just to watch Game Of Thrones. While the company has finally removed lock-in contracts (yay!), you're still looking at a minimum of $92 for the full season, plus a $100 installation fee. If you have no interest in Foxtel's other Pay TV content, this is obviously a dumb way to go.
Game Of Thrones On Foxtel Now
Foxtel Now (formerly Foxtel Play) is Foxtel's revamped on-demand streaming service. Previously, you needed to spend at least $45 per month to access Game Of Thrones this way, which worked out to around $112 for the full season run. Thankfully, the show is now available in the entry-level Pop pack for $15 a month. Because this season has a shorter episode count (seven instead of ten), you should be able to watch the whole thing for just $30. As an added bonus, it will also stream in HD for the first time (albeit 720p).
Update: For a limited time, Foxtel is providing new customers with a complimentary three-month pass to Foxtel Now Pop - which means you can watch Game Of Thrones season 7 for free! Details here.
Game Of Thrones On HBO Now
HBO Now is a Netflix-style streaming service that is not currently available in Australia. However, it's technically possible to scam your way in using an Apple TV media player, a VPN service and a fake US iTunes account.
The service comes with a 30-day free trial and then costs $14.99 per month. Just be mindful that the legalities of geo-blocking circumvention are a bit murky.
Game Of Thrones On iTunes / Google Play
Foxtel's exclusive rights to Game Of Thrones only last for the duration of the season's run. After that, it becomes available to rent or purchase digitally from Google Play and iTunes. If pricing is the same as last year, you can expect to pay $27.99 for the full season in standard definition, or $32.99 in high definition.
The downside to this method is that you'll need to wait until the final episode airs. On the plus side, you can then binge-watch the whole thing in one go and you'll have (more-or-less) permanent copies.
Game Of Thrones On DVD / Blu-ray
They say physical media is dead - we beg to differ. The Blu-ray release of Game Of Thrones always has a superb transfer, offering the very best audio and video quality on the market. Plus, you get exclusive special features and dinky packaging to put on your shelf. The only downside is the wait: you're looking at around ten months after the final episode airs, which is a long time to avoid spoilers!
Game Of Thrones Torrents
Rest assured, every episode of Game Of Thrones will be appearing on imitations of The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents and various piracy streaming sites. There's no stopping the spread of torrents: for every site that gets knocked offline or banned by the government, two seem to spring up in its place. And like Jon Snow, they often refuse to stay dead.
Accessing Game Of Thrones this way obviously isn't legal, but we suspect it's what most non-Foxtel customers will end up doing. Many will justify the decision by either purchasing the Blu-ray at a later date or complaining that the availability options are too limited. (This is an unconvincing argument when you consider that most other markets are in the same boat. For example, if you want Game Of Thrones in the US, you need to subscribe to HBO; it's no different to Australia's Foxtel situation.)
With Foxtel and HBO stepping up the war on piracy - and our own government blocking websites at the behest of rights holders - you can expect your naughty downloads to be scrutinised more than ever. Proceed with caution.