Earlier this year, Foxtel stitched-up a deal for exclusive rights to Game of Thrones and True Detectives. Under this deal, viewers seeking to watch these shows will only be able to do so through Foxtel, with the shows no longer available for purchase via ITunes or other sites until the last episode has aired.
Today, Foxtel has come out defending its exclusive arrangement with HBO (creators of the above shows), arguing that the $35 per month cost attached to its streaming service (increasing to $50 per month after 3 months) is “not a huge amount of money”. From The AFR:
The pay-TV operator has defended its exclusive deal to broadcast the highly anticipated new season of fantasy blockbuster Game of Thrones, saying it was showing the program quickly and affordably, and it hoped most people would “do the right thing” by not downloading it.
The exclusive deal has angered many local fans who were able to watch previous series through iTunes, Quickflix and Google Play but must now wait until Foxtel stops airing the series and buy it in full…
“$35 a month is not a huge amount of money.”
“Yes, there is a price tag … but HBO has to be remunerated. At about $7 million an episode, dragons don’t come cheap.”
No wonder piracy is so rife in Australia. Purchasing content legally is often far less convenient than downloading illegally over the internet. Moreover, the cost of copyrighted content in Australia is usually far more expensive than elsewhere. For example, a subscription to streaming service Netflix in the USA costs only $8 per month versus $35 (increasing to $50) per month for Foxtel’s sub-standard offering.
And the issue of Australians being ripped-off extends well beyond television. For example, a parliamentary report, At what cost? published in July 2013, found that, on average, eBooks are 16% more expensive, music costs 52% more, and games are 82% more expensive in Australia.
Indeed, its the extreme geo-blocking and protection that surrounds much international content distributed through Australian cable television that is driving consumers to seek alternative sources, albeit illegally.
The key to reducing piracy is to free-up the market for content, so that purchasing it legally is as convenient as illegally downloading from the internet. This requires an end to exclusive deals and the ability to purchase content in a variety of formats from a variety of locations, as well as making it legal to convert files as one sees fit for private use.