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  • Analysis, Digital Rights, Opinion - Written by on Friday, April 11, 2014 13:02 - 68 Comments

    House Foxtel: Unbowed, Unbent and Unreasonable

    tywin-lannister

    opinion/analysis The argument by pay television giant Foxtel that the launch of its new Play IPTV streaming video service will cause Australians’ objections about the lack of legitimate access to popular shows such as Game of Thrones to “vanish” is nothing short of ridiculous and strongly indicates that the company still has no idea why the nation is so frustrated with it.

    I couldn’t help but laugh yesterday when I read the feeble and almost token attempt by Foxtel director of corporate affairs Bruce Meagher to justify the pay TV giant’s outrageous continued stranglehold on popular television shows such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, which has recently started to take on all the well-known characteristics of your standard corporate monopoly.

    There’s a lot to find amusing about the piece, but the most obvious reason for the chuckles is Meagher’s approach of using a metaphor from Game of Thrones to make his case. The executive appears to be completely unaware of the irony in a spokesperson from a business such as Foxtel referring to the house motto of the Lannisters from Game of Thrones in an attempt to justify high prices and unreasonable terms of access to content.

    Yes, as Meagher notes, the Lannisters do indeed pay their debts. However, they’re also known for being an incredibly arrogant bunch of bastards constantly grubbing for power, constituting a hereditary family dynasty which most of their fellow countrymen would vastly prefer faded quietly away into history. And if that doesn’t describe Foxtel, which is 50 percent controlled by News Corp, then I certainly don’t know what does.

    However, although many might well compare the arrogance and wealth which Foxtel displays to those same attributes in the Lannisters, I prefer a different slogan for House Foxtel, slightly modified from that of House Martell of Sunspear. If the pay television giant was to take its own corporate words, I would recommend the following: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unreasonable”.

    In his article published on Mumbrella, Meagher makes the argument that Australians shouldn’t complain about availability of Games of Thrones or other shows in Australia or turn to piracy to deal with the situation, because the company’s recent launch of its Foxtel Play IPTV streaming service, which is available over the Internet via a range of devices (including PCs as well as gaming consoles, smart TVs, smartphones and tablets), means TV watchers can get the content they want quickly and easily.

    “If consumers’ only choice was full Foxtel, with lock in contracts and a delay in access due to the need to get installed (a fantastic service by the way for people who love great television) I could understand the objection. But with Foxtel Play available those objections vanish,” the Foxtel executive claims. “What we are left with is an argument at the margins about a few dollars. Yet some people still feel that they should be entitled to take this show for free without the consent of its creators rather than pay a reasonable price for an extraordinary product.”

    From a cursory point of view Meagher’s argument would appear to make sense. There’s no doubt that most Australians can indeed afford $35 per month to watch that month’s Game of Thrones episodes (as well as a bunch of other content), and Foxtel has indeed made Play available via a range of devices. Foxtel customers no longer need to sign up to complex monthly cable plans just to get access to the shows they actually want to watch.

    But as soon as you get outside of Meagher’s reality distortion field and start to look at real-world consumption of the kind of content Foxtel is spruiking, the feeble nature of his argument starts to become rather obvious.

    The first problem is that Australians don’t merely want to watch Game of Thrones and other popular shows: They want to own them.

    Foxtel Play does allow customers to stream episodes of popular TV shows via the Internet. However, unlike other major content platforms such as Valve’s Steam, Sony’s PlayStation Store, the Google Play store, Apple iTunes and more, the service does not allow customers to permanently own the content they have paid to watch. Indeed, even if you have paid Foxtel to watch Game of Thrones or a similar show, the minute you stop paying Foxtel, your access to that content will vanish.

    JB Hi-Fi is currently selling a DVD box set of Game of Thrones Season 1 for $32.98. If I bought that box set, I would be able to watch that season of the show as many times as I wanted, and I would own it forever. Furthermore, I could easily lend those DVDs to my friends to watch as well. This ‘buy to own’ functionality has been explicitly excluded from Foxtel Play because Foxtel is in the business of selling subscriptions, not content.

    And let’s make no bones about it: Many people are not going to watch Game of Thrones only once. It’s the kind of show you return to every couple of years because it has enduring qualities; unlike the latest season of Big Brother.

    The lack of this ownership feature also delivers a whole heap of additional technical problems for customers. Say you’re flying to the US on a business trip. If you’re a Foxtel Play subscriber, there is simply no way for you to take Game of Thrones with you and watch it on the plane, because you won’t have Internet access. The same if you want to plonk some content in front of your kids sitting in the back seat on a long road trip. You could theoretically stream Foxtel Play over a 3G connection on the Hume Highway. But I suspect your experience would not be a great one, and you would quite likely exhaust your quota.

    Or what about if you normally watch Game of Thrones with your mates, but missed out on one episode because of another commitment. Is it really reasonable of Foxtel to force customers to sign up for a $35 monthly plan just to catch up on one episode that they missed? Meagher points out that customers can register up to three devices to access the service; but if your mate has a family with several kids, they may consider it unfeasible for your device to be registered on their Foxtel Play plan.

    These issues, and countless others, can easily be resolved, and in other content areas have been.

    If you’re a video gamer, as I am, there is no need to sign up to pricey monthly subscription plans just to get access to the latest game I want. Instead, I just download games straight from Valve’s Steam service, the PlayStation Network or Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform, and they’re mine to own forever, to play whenever I want.

    Legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs made the point in his biography that one of the main reasons early streaming music services from companies like Sony failed was that customers had a close and emotional connection with that content, so they wanted to own it — not rent it. Much of that market has changed in the decade since the iTunes Music Store opened, but most customers still choose to own the music they love.

    And of course, the largest example of digital content ownership is that of Amazon’s Kindle Store. I know many people who own hundreds of books through the platform.

    There is absolutely no reason why this ownership paradigm can not be implemented when it comes to television series and films, and let’s be very clear: It will be. What Australians and many others are crying out for is a version of Valve’s Steam platform which includes all television series and films, to complement existing IPTV streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. Eventually such a platform will be developed and it will make costly alternatives such as Foxtel Play look like they were created in the Stone Age.

    I went to Foxtel Play this morning and got a few steps through the sign-up process, just to see how possible it was to get access to Game of Thrones. The site first forced me to choose between four “genre picks”, none of which I wanted, before it would let me select Foxtel’s “Premium Movies & Drama” channel (where Game of Thrones resides), which it billed as an add-on.

    Although Foxtel offers a 14 day free trial of Play, and although it’s currently, as Meagher noted, offering a $35 monthly package for access to the Premium Movies and Drama package, the site was very clear that eventually I would be paying $50 per month … to watch the one TV show I actually care about watching. Wow — now that’s a bargain.

    I used to be able to buy Game of Thrones through iTunes — but a recent deal announced by Foxtel in February has blocked the show from being aired through any other medium in a timely fashion at all. So that option is off the table, and even the DVD release won’t be out for a while.

    In his article, Meagher argued that Game of Thrones is distributed in Australia the way it is because of HBO. He wrote: “Of course some people say they don’t care about all of that, they only want the most recent episodes of Game of Thrones. However, HBO has decided that is not the way they intend to sell this season either here on in the United States. As the content creator and risk taker on the show, they are entitled to make those commercial decisions. As I have said elsewhere, dragons don’t come cheap.”

    However, frankly this is completely untrue. The truth is that every year, Foxtel offers HBO fat sacks of cash money to make the show more and more exclusive to Foxtel, so that the company can in turn milk Australians continually by bundling this premium content with the rest of the dross that passes for entertainment through Foxtel’s subscription service. Foxtel makes that decision, not HBO, and it can only make that decision because it has more money than anyone else.

    Foxtel director of television Brian Walsh said as much in February, telling industry blog TV Tonight: “It’s a big coup for us and we have a lot of ideas around the marketing of Thrones. Globally it’s a television sensation. I think having it exclusively in Australia on the Foxtel platform is indicative of the way we’re approaching a lot of our acquired content now. Our absolute desire is to increase our subscriber numbers and exclusively acquiring Game of Thrones is important.”

    Lastly, did I mention that the version of Game of Thrones which is available through Foxtel Play isn’t even in high definition? That’s right: Although HBO distributes the show in full HD (1080i/p), and although the show has a total budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars — and although many Australians have broadband decent enough to watch 1080p YouTube continually, and do so — Foxtel’s Play service is still not broadcast in HD. Incredible, I know, in this age of giant televisions with 4K TVs on the way. But true. It certainly says something when the Pirate Bay is able to distribute Game of Thrones in HD and Foxtel Play cannot.

    In concluding this article, I want to be very clear about one thing: Although we live in an age where consumers are increasingly directly funding the content they want to watch, there will always be a place for middlemen. Every form of content — be it video games, books, films, TV shows or music — requires a distribution channel of some kind. Most of us are pretty definitely locked in to at least half a dozen of those distribution channels already, feeding them money continually to they can service our limitless junkie desire for new material to satiate our engorged brains.

    The problem I have with Foxtel is not that it’s a middleman. The problem I and many other people have with Foxtel is that it’s a shitty middleman. It has consciously designed all of its platforms to be expensive, technically limited, user-unfriendly and to bundle content together in a fashion which very few people actually like or want.

    I don’t want middlemen to disappear in Australia’s content landscape. Instead, what I want is better middlemen. I want middlemen like Valve to enter the TV distribution business. I want middlemen such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to launch their services in Australia. I would quite happily buy Game of Thrones from any of these companies.

    But perhaps most of all, what I want is for Foxtel to get the hell out of my way. I don’t care at all if the company wants to operate a technically inept and pricey pay television service. It’s never going to get my business, but if other people want to pay for it then that’s their problem. However, the minute that a company starts blocking competitive access to the content I want, and forces me onto its money treadmill as the sole avenue I have to watch my favourite TV shows, it earns itself a new entry on my hitlist.

    If Game of Thrones has one central lesson, it’s that change never stops and history cannot go backwards. Today’s King in the North may very well likely be tomorrow’s dogfood, if he plays his cards wrong, and nobody can put his head back on his shoulders once it’s been lopped off like a bit of cheap lumber. Internet piracy is not new: It’s been going on now for several decades. The only way to address it, as Steve Jobs conclusively proved during the days of Napster and Kazaa, is to offer a better service. Foxtel has proven consistently that it’s not interested in doing that, and Meagher’s protestations this week merely demonstrate the company’s arrogance about its monopolistic position is strongly intact as well.

    Image credit: Screenshot of HBO’s Game of Thrones

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    1. bern
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink |

      Let me add my name to the list of those who willingly part with cold hard cash for decent content, but who will *never* subscribe to Foxtel.

      It’s just crap value for money, whichever way you look at it.

      • Antic Ped
        Posted 11/04/2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink |

        And like you Bern, I won’t pay for Foxtel either.

        To watch a movie or series once in a blue moon makes paying for the installation let alone the subscriptions for a load of crap and one or two attractions.

        I wouldn’t subscribe to an internet based deal either. My connection is too limited.

        Of course if there was a real NBN, Foxtel would have more users but some greedy old shit doesn’t get it.

      • Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink |

        And another. I ditched Foxtel nearly 10 years ago (still have a dish on the roof and a hole in the wall) explicitly because the ROI I was getting (shows I cared about and watched vs. dross I won’t watch) wasn’t a positive sum.

        At no point am I going to resubscribe to Foxtel, though I’d actively consider Hulu, Netflix or similar with pricing and content of a level similar to the US (+20-ish per cent costs to account for GST and server setup costs here).

        Foxtel’s arguments are specious, at best. The community has been arguing for years, “give us the content we want, when we want it, to own, at a reasonable price,” yet nobody on the provider/network side seems to care or understand.

        Last year, and previously, I bought Game of Thrones (and other shows) through iTunes, followed by DVD purchase for the extras (I’m an extras nerd). So, I’m obviously happy to pay *twice* to *own*. This year, I can’t. I either download and then buy DVDs, or I wait. Either way, Foxtel and its rubbish arguments can die in a fire.

    2. Luke
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink |

      I used to pirate every game that I played. Steam completely changed that, I now purchase every game and have even gone and purchased old games I enjoyed and pirated but will not play. I do believe that people deserve money for their product. I now for many years have not pirated a game and if I cannot get it on steam for a reasonable price I won’t get it at all.

      In saying that though this is a new digital age that these older people cannot understand. Content needs to be made available when we want to use it, in a format that we want and at a price which is acceptable.

      Steam proves that this works, I happily pay money for netflix and hulu. I refuse to give money to foxtel as they are a monopoly and greedy as hell and overcharge for bad service.

      • Ryan
        Posted 11/04/2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink |

        Steam and Origin need to lose the Australia tax.

        • Daniel
          Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink |

          I agree with this in its entirety. Charged more for goods that are digital.

          • Bpat
            Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink |

            Agreed, just charge us in USD then it will automatically adjust the price as the AUD moves. (Or whatever currency the company is originally from)

        • Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink |

          I have always gotten around the Australia tax with a VPN in the US. *shrug*

        • quink
          Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink |

          What Australia Tax on Steam? Just trade with random people with keys or whatnot and take advantage of Humble Bundles and the big Steam sales and you too could end up with 300 games… sigh. I have $50 in credit on Steam still from trading and marketing smartly. Somehow I don’t think FOXTEL works like that.

          • quink
            Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink |

            I literally have more value in my Steam inventory than I could ever spend in two or three years buying fairly good $0 to $10 games with a fairly high Metacritic rating in sales (which may well be AAA-level fairly recent releases at times) on top of the games I already have. And that does in no way even account for me having enough time to play them. Steam gives me entertainment at times on single-digit cents per hour. Sometimes double-digit cents per hour.

            Even if I watch FOXTEL for three hours a day I’d still be an order of magnitude away from the value I could have by playing something on Steam and watching something on YouTube in the background. Never mind Netflix.

            That being said, have I pirated Game of Thrones? No. I don’t like Game of Thrones. I’ve watched part of the first episode, I’ll admit, but I just couldn’t get into it. If anything, I’d rather read the books.

        • Karl
          Posted 11/04/2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink |

          Afaik it’s the publishers that set the price higher in Aus, not Steam/Origin.

          ps. Origin/EA is almost as bad as Foxtel. EA locks their games down so they can only be played on Origin (unless you walk to a shop and buy a physical copy like this is the 1990s or something). But I’ll stop there because I could bitch about EA for hours.

          • GongGav
            Posted 14/04/2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink |

            No, you still need to register it against the Origin service for most EA games I’ve played. They also do a nifty trick of hiding the requirements. Going back a couple of years to Battlefield 3, I bought the physical copy, went home and installed it.

            First, install Origin. No problems. Second, set up an account. OK, I thought I had, but no biggie.

            Third, install the game. OK, first step, punch in your product key. Easy, its written right there on the card! Then the game goes away, and starts the install process. Uh oh, I needed Windows Vista or later. No BF3 for me, as I was still on XP at the time.

            Old machine, hadnt bothered replacing the OS, and frankly didnt need to. But because the key had been redeemed, I couldnt take it back. I could only upgrade to Windows Vista (actually, Win 7 at the time) so I could play. As I was looking at doing that anyway it wasnt a problem, but it was annoying that I only found out that requirement AFTER I’d redeeemed the key.

            Surely a simple system check could have been performed first. When I commented on it at the game shop, everyone there was as surprised as me that it was Vista minimum. When we looked closer at the box, it was there, listed in the requirements in a beautiful tiny font, grey writing on grey background…

            When the middleman creates blockers, there is an issue. With EA/Origin, the blocker was system req’s not easily identifiable. With Foxtel, its monpolistic control, plus additional costs to access the shows.

            • Karl
              Posted 14/04/2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink |

              My experience with Origin was somewhat simpler. I’d passed up many games because they were Origin-only until a game that I really wanted to play came along; Mass Effect 3. I bit the bullet and installed Origin, and it just plain refused to work. I went around looking for other ways to buy it – Amazon etc – but all of them required installation through Origin. Then I gave up. Their bullshit lost them a sale and I’m glad it did because the ending to ME3 really is as bad as people say.

    3. Soth
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink |

      “the Foxtel executive claims. “What we are left with is an argument at the margins about a few dollars”
      Sooo you won’t mind lowering your price then?
      oh and.. Patchface wins the throne! Ho-ah-ho-ah-ho (not really)

    4. GENIII
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink |

      Why would i pay foxtel for the pleasure of watching game of thrones etc. When uncle torrence can supply it to me for free?

      Rupert has enough riches, he doesn’t need me to throw him any bones.

    5. Haderak
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink |

      Why on earth isn’t Foxtel’s behaviour considered anti-competitive? Don’t we have laws against this sort of thing?!

      • Posted 13/04/2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink |

        Laws that would be used against Foxtel (Newscorp) in Australia under a liberal (or any govt actually)???

        You’re new to this country/planet aren’t you?

    6. Senectus
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink |

      Was particularly amused that he claimed that pirates were taking food from the mouth of actors and HBO. Ahh no… Foxtel made sure they got paid.
      The only people pirates are taking money from is Foxtel, some might say it’s a fair retribution for the manipulation and blackmail… forcing us to pay more than we should for more than we want in a quality less than we want.

      Suck it. I’m not shedding any tears over money Foxtel loses.
      Especially after how the screwed me over during the analog to digital swap over.

    7. RBH
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink |

      I switched from a Spotify subscription to Google Play purely because of the ability to purchase music. And Spotify was crap for classical music.

      One day they will get it and salesmen like Bruce Meagher will be telling us about this fantastic new thing that are offering.

    8. ALT
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink |

      I did not fall for the digital changeover, as the analog service had got so bad there was nothing Foxtel could say to convince me to change over. I had it for four years, stated off well lots on nice stuff to watch, then:

      More and more advertising (up to 18min and hour), why in Poseidon’s name should I have to pay for a service that has advertising?

      And then there is all the repeats every year.

      Not worth it by a long shot.

    9. Phil
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink |

      GOT is/was available on iTunes (at least season 3), in high definition and with excellent Audio for the paltry sum of $35/season.

      Foxtel RENTs (not sells) a seriously substandard product for a significant price hike, yet somehow they think customers should be happy?

      The fact remains that Foxtel (and friends) is seriously out of touch with reality.

    10. Brendan
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink |

      “The problem I have with Foxtel is not that it’s a middleman. The problem I and many other people have with Foxtel is that it’s a shitty middleman.”

      Steam has proved, categorically, that you can ‘control’ content but make it stupidly easy to access games and content. Make no mistake. There are limitations. It is a form of walled garden.

      But. Here’s the kicker. It’s trivial to access. It can follow you across machines. They have done the thing people have said for eon’s is impossible. Beat the thieves at their own game.

      Nearly any title, same time as the boxed version. Pre-release downloads ready to play the moment it goes live. More and more applications are moving to the platform.

      When you make it easier to spend than take. People will generally decide to spend. Sure. Some will take. But most will spend; because that’s just the easiest solution.

      Imagine if GoT was pre-downloaded and unlocked the moment it went ‘live’ in the US? What if it was simply easier than anything else? What if you could just ‘follow’ a series and it was there, ready to go when you were?

      It doesn’t even need to be cheaper. Just easier than any other option. People love the idea that (for Steam) they can just sit down, press a button and bam, there’s the game.

      There are others who have figured out distribution models and systems that work; a convenience that’s hard to beat.

      The music industry has already worked this out. They at first were against iTunes, Amazon and others; content owners hate to share the wealth. Now? Music stores have all but closed. And yet the money pours on in.

      Convenience is the key. It always has been.

      This is what Foxtel and others shouting down the light, just don’t get. It’s not the cost. It’s not the content.

      It’s the experience (or lack there of).

      They purposely make it hard to legally access content under ‘exclusive’ models that no longer have any relevance in a connected world. And then blame the consumer for their models failure to match the change.

      There is ample example of how to do it right. And just how successful that can be.

      • jingo
        Posted 12/04/2014 at 2:18 am | Permalink |

        Just wanted to say ‘exactly’. Even the most die-hard, penny-pinching, jaded, bitter old pirate I ever knew eventually came over to Steam, it’s all about ease of access.

        • Richard L
          Posted 14/04/2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink |

          Curiously, people now complain if there isn’t Stream DRM on games.

          Look at the discussion around Humble Bundles where a game is available DRM free only, but is not on Steam.

          For many, the benefits of Steam (of having all your games in one place) out weigh the problems with DRM.

    11. quink
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink |

      Dear FOXTEL.

      I approve of all of your actions. Please keep doing whatever you’re doing exactly how you’ve been doing things. I especially love how you’ve managed to stop piracy by getting to Brandis and your rhetoric of Netflix being piracy and all. I forget the details.

      Having your middle-to-upper management rant on mumBRELLA is exactly what your business needs and you should be all means continue doing this indefinitely. I especially enjoyed your car analogy which has utterly convinced all these nefarious thieves to stop their pirating ways in being so very reasonable. That certainly shut them up, didn’t it. It’s not like you guys (or at least the people owning 50% of you) are into piracy (unblock-us, thepiratebay) nor know how ratings work by forgetting – what are they called – the unimportant places? The places that had this Austar thing? I don’t know the name. Oh, and wait, an unnamed TV exec sent her that picture. Sorry, I forget.

      Point being, you’re phenomenally successful and all this is just wanting to make me sign up. If I hadn’t sign up already! I’m paying you guys more than a $100 a month and it’s worth every penny. Keep going, please, keep going! And you guys certainly shouldn’t do any of what Steam has been doing, don’t worry about them, they’re just a passing fad. With FOXTEL there’s just so much value out there. But not so much value that you guys don’t turn a profit.

      Also, if you could produce more expensive and lavish reality TV shows and keep shoving ads into your programs to generate better value for your clients, I would ever so much appreciate it. Oh, and don’t forget to introduce some new recording STB to ensure people won’t skip your ads at twice the price. Your customers would very much appreciate that!

      Oh, and don’t worry about VPNs, so don’t be running out and getting the government to ban those. People who use them to Netflix and so on are just complete freaks and weirdos who aren’t even in the same market as you guys, which is the vast majority, 99.9% of the population. Good on ya :)

      I’ll be eternally a subscriber of yours and always recommending you guys to everyone around me! But don’t cut back on your marketing, I hear spending millions on an ad campaign where you put posters up facing walls so people can basically not see anything is turning into a really fun game. Someone discovers it and they’re like “I need to post this on Twitter” and people will see it on Twitter. It’s becoming really popular all over the world, so don’t forget to spend lots of money on advertising. I also hear that Channel Ten is being watched by so many people, so you should focus all your ad spending there too, make sure you pay them extra over Seven and Nine. And lastly, by all means continue your exclusivity on things. The more programs only you guys have the more we’ll be convinced to sign up for FOXTEL. Who cares if it costs $150 or $200 a month. I pinky swear that everyone here on Delimiter will sign up for FOXTEL if you do that ;)

      I also hear about this new reality TV show, Big Brother. You should totally sink all your money into producing a season or two. Or some kind of Australian drama where all that happens is you create a big giant pile of money and set it on fire. It would make for utterly compelling television. Just promise that every episode there’ll be more money on the pile, OK?

      There’s a reason you guys are near enough the most expensive pay TV service in the world. It’s because you offer such good value!!! Charge even more!

      Lots of love and best wishes,
      quink

      • quink
        Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink |

        I also have a tray full of cupcakes waiting for you if you hike the prices on both the new subscribers and all existing subscribers once Game of Thrones is halfway through. I mean, you have to increase your prices with the CPI and then some at some point in time anyway, right?

        It’s a win-win situation for you guys! The cupcakes are just waiting and an honest heartfelt gesture produced by a genuine feeling that I’m not paying you enough!

        • walter
          Posted 14/04/2014 at 7:05 am | Permalink |

          lolol

    12. dJOS
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink |

      Amazing isnt folks, most ppl here WANT to hand over their heard earned money for content they enjoy

      http://canadianonlinegamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Shut-up-and-take-my-money.jpg

      but, as Renai correctly pointed out, the shitty middle men wont let us do so in a user-friendly and acceptable manner!

      When I look at my own content acquisition habits I see the following:

      UseNet Subscription
      anti-geoblocking sub
      NetFlix Sub
      Xbox Live Sub
      Xbox Movie rentals
      iTunes Rentals
      Fast Internet Sub

      FFS Im spending money to get the content I want but the Australian content gatekeepers are getting very little of it because they are doing such a poor job of making it available to me in a fair, timely and affordable manner.

      I’ll keep saying this till i’m blue in the face: we need similar anti-exclusivity content laws for on-line content distribution to those in place for physical video stores! Imagine in the 80’s/90’s if you had to visit 2 or 3 stores every time you wanted to rent a movie because Video Ezy was in bed with MGM and Blockbuster was in bed with Fox … its absurd but that is the situation we have in the digital realm!

      • GongGav
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink |

        I wouldnt want to count how many great shows I’ve missed over the years because they’ve been locked away behind a second Foxtel paywall.

        Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy (yes, I know its on FTA, but I came in late so dont care about it), Breaking Bad, Rome, Spartacus, House of Cards, the list goes on. Havent experienced them, so dont care about them. I’ll either get them cheap some year, or borrow the box set from friend or family.

        And I had Foxtel for the better part of 15 years as well, just refused to pay for extortion for something that shouldnt have been hidden a second time. You connect to Foxtel to get access to that very thing, you shouldnt have to pay extra.

    13. Posted 11/04/2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink |

      Just a slight correction, you don’t own the games on steam – you have an unlimited subscription to play them for as long as the steam service allows you too or exists. Not quite ‘forever’ (excluding steam free cracks/patches)

      Otherwise entirely agree with the article.

    14. Posted 11/04/2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink |

      Just a slight correction, you don’t own the games on steam – you have an unlimited subscription to play them for as long as the steam service allows you too or exists. Not quite ‘forever’ (excluding steam free cracks, patches, etc.)

      Otherwise entirely agree with the article.

    15. Paul Thompson
      Posted 11/04/2014 at 6:19 pm | Permalink |

      It has been said for a long time now, that piracy isn’t the problem. Technology isn’t the enemy.

      Now we have incredibly successful platforms delivering us music, games and books to use and consume as we want. The people who make the product are happier, the customer is happier – but the middlemen who failed to adapt aren’t happy.

      It doesn’t matter if they are happy or not. They can adapt or die. They can also do this in a way which alienates people forever, or which brings them along to be future happy customers.

      Foxtel will be crushed because they refuse to adapt and every Australian hates them with a passion.

      • quink
        Posted 11/04/2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink |

        > The Golgafrinchans are a race from the planet Golgafrincham that appears in Fit the Sixth of the radio series, episode 6 of the TV series and the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In their ancient history, they tricked the most useless third (the middlemen) of their population to get on a spaceship and leave the planet, by spreading rumours of the horrific fates their planet was doomed to soon undergo, such as being eaten by a gigantic mutant star goat, or collapsing into the sun. The plan was to get them to crash on a “harmless” planet, thus losing any capacity for space travel; they would then be out of everyone’s hair.

        > Soon after they managed to get rid of these people – including all the telephone sanitizers – the entire remaining population was wiped out by a plague contracted from a dirty telephone.

        I’ll take the risk.

        • Daniel
          Posted 11/04/2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink |

          The B ark.

          There are the thinkers, the ones that come up with the ideas and understand the maths and the science, or write stories and poetry. Then there are the doers, the ones who build things and put stuff together; do the actual physical work.

          Then we have the distribution channel management, advertisers, marketing executives, telephone sanitisers, those who make clothes for animals, those who buy clothes for animals, those who put their large-teethed smiling faces on television to sell dry-mouth cures and toenail anti-fungal infection cremes, and so on in that fashion. We were sent off first.

          I will also take the risk.

    16. Goddy
      Posted 12/04/2014 at 2:56 am | Permalink |

      I hope piracy becomes so rampant in Australia, it sends them out of business. Wankers.

    17. Seano
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 12:54 am | Permalink |

      +eleventy billion Renai. A very good distillation on how myself and many of my friends feel. I too used Itunes to watch the first 3 seasons, I wasn’t even tempted to pirate them, simply because they were easily available in a format I wanted and relatively cheap. However for Foxtel, there is no way on God’s green earth that I will pay that much for a bucket load of dross, simply because there is a cherry in the middle. A torrenting I will go, and most likely I will buy the DVD’s when they come out, but Foxtel will NOT see a cent from me.

    18. SBD
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink |

      ” and although many Australians have broadband decent enough to watch 1080p YouTube continually, and do so ”

      … yet others have connections so dismal they buffer with YouTube set to minimum resolution. I don’t know if Foxtel’s platform offers lower resolution in order to speed up delivery, nor am I interested, mainly because its Foxtel. If I do get video content online, I source well compressed, yet viewable content that does not take aeons to download.

      { I had Optus cable for a few years, and gave it up well before we moved out. Same as others comment above, lack of content, infinite repeats at unsuitable times, and finally the adverts started… I Will Not Pay for a service which is then used to attempt to sell me things, for that they can pay me.} Free to air “content” isn’t worth a settop box, analog => nothing was preferable.

    19. Mr.B
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:02 am | Permalink |

      HBO is only losing money to illegal downloads of GoT due to its own licencing deals made with Foxtel for GoT content delivery in Australia.

      The moment HBO gives other content providers access to GoT in Australia (ie. FetchTV, QuickFlix) will be the moment that illegal downloads of GoT are dramatically reduced in Australia – increasing revenue for HBO in the process.

      It may also provide incentive to Netflix and/or Hulu to open shop in Australia, adding further to revenue made from GoT.

      And while this is all about GoT, there are other shows that could also benefit from improved licencing access, instead of content being locked to Foxtel, and leaving Australians with no other legal options to view their content.

      Mr.B

      • Quasimofoso
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink |

        “HBO is only losing money to illegal downloads of GoT due to its own licencing deals made with Foxtel for GoT content delivery in Australia.

        The moment HBO gives other content providers access to GoT in Australia (ie. FetchTV, QuickFlix) will be the moment that illegal downloads of GoT are dramatically reduced in Australia – increasing revenue for HBO in the process.”

        HBO signed an exclusive deal for GoT distribution in Australia with Foxtel – they must have been happy with the offer.
        Downloading will not affect the content creator’s revenue at all this season.

    20. Luca
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink |

      Huh? People still pay for T.V?

      Isn’t that what torrents are for?
      I much prefer to download my shows, watch them when I want, how ever many times I want and with no add breaks.

    21. Tony
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink |

      Great story! Can I add, this is why Australia will not get FTTH because Rupert (News Corp) supported and funded the LNP election campaign and he is wanting to protect his media interests.

    22. Brad Cann
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink |

      I have 3 things to say.

      1. Getflix.com.au
      2. Australia Post Load & Go
      3. Enjoy overseas content for <$23 per month, where and when you want.

    23. Richard
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink |

      I agree 100%, Steam was a paradigm shift for me , I’ve been a steam member from when it first became available & have a sizable library , I’m absolutely sure if I could buy the TV shows & movies I wanted in the same way it would be a win win situation for me and the media owners.
      In the meantime Netflix ,Hulu & UnblockUS are getting my money , as for Foxtel I look forward to the day they die an agonising death because of their greed & lack of insight.

    24. MikeK ♫
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink |

      I bought Game of Thrones watched it ( I found the game too violent for my liking) then sent it to my daughter as a birthday present, she enjoys that sort of thing and she was happy to receive it, I would NEVER buy any of Murdoch products.

    25. Bek
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink |

      Oh FGS. Boo hoo. Foxtel is a company, not a charity. It exists to make money. You have to pay them to receive their offerings. But you can choose not to. And so what if you have to wait til the DVD (you’re still buying them?) or BluRay comes out to physically own it. That’s life. I don’t see anyone in the US wetting themselves with anguish that they have to pay HBO to watch Game of Thrones. That’s right. In case you’re unaware HBO is a premium channel that comes at an additional cost to the regular subscription packages.

      Let’s see. I don’t like the crap that the Ten Network shows on TV. Should I stop buying all the products and services advertised on Ten? Yes, yes I will. That’ll show them. Deprive them of my hard earned sheckles. Just like I will never, ever subscribe to Foxtel no matter what. Same reasoning.

      Do people carry on like this diatribe and associated comments do when free to air networks withhold programs? Oooh, Seven hasn’t shown the new series of Downton Abbey. And its been out on the UK for six months. And I can’t get it on DVD here because they haven’t shown it. Oooh, let’s get the ACCC onto the Seven Network because they have a monopoly on the show and I can’t watch it on my 13 hour flight. Oh that’s right. We only harangue Foxtel for that sort of behaviour.

      People we’re not talking about some sort of essential to life product. It’s one TV show. Get over yourselves.

      • AJ
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink |

        Umm Downton Abbey is shit

      • GENIII
        Posted 16/04/2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink |

        “Seven hasn’t shown the new series of Downton Abbey. And its been out on the UK for six months. And I can’t get it on DVD here because they haven’t shown it.”

        Uncle torrence will fix that problem for you :)

    26. Brenda Loots
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink |

      For chrissake, it’s a TV show. It’s Entertainment. It’s distraction. There is a real world out there to explore which is far more exhiliariting than anything that could be dished up by television.
      So if you don’t like to be screwed by Foxtel, just don’t buy it. That’s the language they understand. It will be their loss, not yours.

    27. Malcolm
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink |

      Just pirate it and be done with it, if it upsets your conscience to be know for pirating think of it as a screw you Rupert tax, for fucking up our NBN and helping to get the liberals voted so they could demolish the NBN. Every copy downloaded is a fuck you very much to Rupert tell your friends to down load a copy to just because you can.

      • GENIII
        Posted 16/04/2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink |

        “screw you Rupert tax” & “Every copy downloaded is a fuck you very much to Rupert”

        I like em, and will be using em in future.

        Thanks

        GENIII

    28. 1984
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink |

      SMH recently said that over 315,000 people watch GoT on FoxTel.

      This means that FoxTel is pulling in $22m a month from these people, or $264m per annum.

      The price FoxTel pay to HBO for the exclusive licence is approxmiately the cost it would to produce GoT in Australia plus a margin of 10% or so.

      So with avg episode cost of $7m plus 10% means that a season FoxTel is paying HBO approx $92m give or take $10m. Considering that FoxTel is making $264m per annum from their GoT subscribers this means that they are making a nice bit of coin.

      Invariably they have spied upon the estimated 3-5 million people watching it via other channels. The maths is basic and straightforward.

      Lets take say 3 million viewers at $70 per month over 12 months this would give FoxTel revenues $2.5 billion per annum just for GoT alone!

      This is why FoxTel has nailed down as many of the channels and why last year they were leaking they were going to sue viewers for distributing and viewing the show via unauthorised channels.

      Even they got only 1 million more subscribers (through idle threat alone) this is still approx $900m per annum. These are immense sums of money which is in turned used to create regulatory and enforcement environments which seek to dissolve user rights and empower these corporate parasites.

      FoxTel have done nothing to produce the show, they pay a pittance (in the scheme of things) and ultimately the money is used to enrich already sickeningly powerful people.

    29. Kal
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink |

      Give it time. Google, Facebook and co. have shown it’s possible to make an utter shitload of money by spreading their income over a large number of people even though each one only earns them a few bucks a year.

      When the content creators like HBO also learn this, Foxtel will go away as being the monster that they are.

      And good riddance.

    30. Damian
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink |

      I signed up to Foxtel PLAY this week.
      I also signed up to Netflix over the weekend.

      Let me just say, there is a HUGE difference between the two. Netflix wipes the floor in every way imaginable.

      Price is less than $10 p/m and for that you get hundreds of movies and TV shows. The TV shows are COMPLETE, from beginning to end. It auto-plays the next episode too, great for binge watching. You can add movies and TV shows to a ‘watch list’ for later viewing, and rate what you like so Netflix builds a profile of what you might like. It’s really well put together. User-friendly, fast, with lots of great content, and a bargain price.

      In comparison, Foxtel’s library is PATHETIC. Many TV shows only had the previous season available on Catch Up. If Season 4 is the current season for example, you can forget about finding Season 1 or 2 on Catch Up. Video quality was also terrible for some shows, and I mean terrible. It’s a real bare-bones piece of software too. Even at it’s current discount, it’s still more than 3 times as much as Netflix, yet you get much less content. It also shows all the locked content alongside what you’ve paid for, in a not-so subtle way of saying “hey, pay more if you want to see that”.

      I chose “Drama” and “Premium Drama and Movies”. That gets me GoT, Breaking Bad, and Walking Dead, yet somehow it excludes Helix (Entertainment). The way they divide shows into categories is deceitful. Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm (clearly a comedy), gets put in the Drama channel. Previous seasons of Game of Thrones are in the “Drama” channel, but new episodes are in the “Premium Drama and movies”. Overall, it’s still a pathetic offering from Foxtel to anyone who’s tasted the competition.

    31. Ken
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink |

      WHO CARES. Get a life and go outside and garden.

      • Posted 14/04/2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink |

        I recommend you do some gardening, because you certainly won’t be commenting on Delimiter any time soon.

    32. chris
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink |

      Just taken advantage of the free two week trial of Foxtel GO… seemed buggy at best, continually cutting out and when I tried to cancel found that the unsubscribe function on the website was broken. The downloadable app for PC wouldn’t load either

      All round a very negative experience.

    33. text mex
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink |

      Foxtel is a complete rip off. Really it is a disgrace and a lost opportunity for them to penetrate every home in Australia. Let me clarify, Fox sports is outstanding but you can’t get it by itself, you have to get all the other rubbish you don’t want. I use Foxtel Go (same as play) and would not pay $50.00/month for a substandard service. Again I have to add rubbish before I can get sports. I would pay $10.00/month for the sports if it could at least work as well as some of the US technologies that have been doing this for many years, where Foxtel introduces a garbage product. Let me ask Foxtel. Why didn’t they look at what the rest of world used for streaming and buy that technology as it would have run rings around Foxtel.

      Let’s examine Netflix which I use via legitimate DNS service, Getflix. It is outstanding for the money and you get fluid streaming up to HD if you have a reasonable connection (4 meg upwards which is achievable via ADSL) . Look at Vudu.com, excellent streaming and new releases available on almost every device. I can buy a WD box for $120.00 and use Netflix, Vudu and Hulu for TV shows for less than Foxtel’s garbage. It is on demand and I can chose from a massive library. Look at Amazon who does this too.

      Wake up Foxtel/Telstra, you have held us back for too many years because you try to squeeze the market at your own peril. You are like Gollum clutching the ring which is the Australian people wanting better, saying “My precious.”

    34. MrT
      Posted 16/04/2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink |

      “Lastly, did I mention that the version of Game of Thrones which is available through Foxtel Play isn’t even in high definition? That’s right: Although HBO distributes the show in full HD (1080i/p), and although the show has a total budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars — and although many Australians have broadband decent enough to watch 1080p YouTube continually, and do so — Foxtel’s Play service is still not broadcast in HD. Incredible, I know, in this age of giant televisions with 4K TVs on the way. But true. It certainly says something when the Pirate Bay is able to distribute Game of Thrones in HD and Foxtel Play cannot.”

      Personally, I’m not into Game of Thrones but the quality of whatever show it is I’m watching is important to me. I agree with your comments and think it is rediculous that we are still getting shows broadcast lower than 1080i/p HD quality, which goes for freeview as well as paytv. If Foxtel want to get a bigger audience then they’ll need to think about this.

      I’m hoping in the future there will be other companies able to compete with Foxtel but their monopoly on licensing is going to make it difficult. If competitors can’t secure any decent content (that people actually want to watch) they won’t last very long. The longer Foxtel’s monopoly goes on just makes it more and more difficult for others to enter the market.

    35. Internet
      Posted 16/04/2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink |

      I’m currently using Amazon Prime (Instant Video.)
      It’s only $49/year considering for some reason I’m still on the student rates, even without that it would only be like $90/year or something.
      The pricing blows my mind, I’m paying yearly for what payTV typically charges monthly.
      Amazon Instant doesn’t have as many titles or as ‘new’ titles I don’t think (I don’t really follow new shows,) so that might be a bit of a turn off for some people.

      I don’t mind “not owning” content for a while now. Starting with Steam I was hesitant, but when I got Amazon Prime, I mainly just wanted to “rewatch/relive” Stargate SG-1, and a couple of older shows. I didn’t want to own it, I just wanted to rewatch it.
      In this sense it’s extremely cost effective, and I’m starting to wonder if their cost model is even viable.

      I don’t know if I had a point to this post but this is my first experience with a TV/movie/book subscription service so I thought I would mention my thoughts.

    36. Andrew
      Posted 18/04/2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink |

      Well argued case. I would never subscribe to Foxtel’s awful subscription service, but if News/FT had offered simple a pay per play/download and buy service along the lines of iTunes they could have made a fortune and grown a massive user base with GOT alone. I’d use it.

      But that’s not how they think. Instead I’m getting a mate to zip drive each episode for me and then buy the box set. Fuck Foxtel.

      Google, Netflix and Apple etc will kill Foxtel off in Australia within 5 years. And they’ll go the way of the Lannister’s in the end.

    37. Soren
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

      To watch GOT in Australia one can purchase a Roku device and an HBO subscription to the show. You don’t get to keep the content, but one can watch as soon as it is released in the US. A VPN is also required with a US landing.

    38. Simon Shaw
      Posted 25/04/2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink |

      HBO charge about $15-19USD a month, but you get full HD.
      http://hbowatch.com/how-much-does-an-hbo-subscription-cost-these-days/

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