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Marv

Maybe it's just me, but I don't find the cartoon clever at all. HBO owns Game of Thrones, and if they want to use it to encourage people to subscribe then that seems reasonable to me, even if it's frustrating to some people. I don't agree with the idea that you somehow have the right to go get it illegally for free if they won't sell it to you online. There's lots of other stuff to watch, and it will eventually be available on DVD or streaming.

paul kelly

just because you can't

Brian

Paying for something ELSE doesn't entitle you to whatever you want... when you pay for something, you are entitled only to the specific things that that specific payment is explicitly for.

things

I get the point of the cartoon and I agree.

Jukeboxfun

Maybe I would get the point of the cartoon, If I could read it. Is it my eyes or is that in a poor resolution?

Gir

I don't think the comic is saying that people should pirate. Obviously the guy wants to get it via legitimate means. I think the comic is saying that piracy always looms; that content owners are idiots to ignore piracy when they make their content hard, expensive, or objectionable to obtain.

things

Gir nailed it.

Irishdoom

I think perhaps a couple of you are missing the point. It's not in support of piracy. The cartoon is not saying that guy has the right to go steal Game of Thrones. It's just trying to illustrate WHY piracy can be so prevalent.

If HBO insists on it's "old world" model of subscription-only to get it's content, it will likely be a bigger target of pirates than other avenues that have LEGAL means of getting content.

Ken

HBO arguably has the best original programming on television. They can afford to spend large sums of money producing season after season of great shows because they fund their programming via viewer subscriptions. There are no ads during HBO programs. The subscription fee IS their source of revenue. If you are not paying HBO (by way of your cable provider), you should not expect to have easy access to their programming. It is entirely reasonable that our options are to either wait for the Blu-ray/DVD or pay the subscription fee for the convenience of watching HBOs programming as it airs instead of months later.

Our collective sense of entitlement is out of hand.

Hank

@Irish, but will HBO make more or less money with their old model?

Nobody has the right to steal content even if they can't get that content in the form they would prefer. If a company, like HBO, withholds the content from new media sites or charges more for it they should expect more people to steal it (and they do). This in itself doesn't justify the theft any more than if the guy left his MacBook on the seat of his convertible, both thefts should be prosecuted.

tsrblke

@Ken,

I'm not sure I agree it's a collective sense of entitlement. The guy in the cartoon isn't saying "Gimme this for free" he's saying "where can I deposit my money and recieve it." HBO can't sell their product without prexisting cable subscriptions, meaning if all you want is HBO, you're forking over $50+ month to see Game of Thrones. I'd bet HBO could find tones of people willing to fork over $3-4 an episode for this to not have to pay for cable.
I can't come up with a really good analogy right now, but let's try this: It's like Best buy telling me I can't buy a DVD without having bought my TV from them. Eventually people will just start shopping somewhere else.

things

@ Ken...with all due respect you are very much missing the point.

Lynne

I have "Games of Thrones" in my SAVE Queue of Netflix something that my Senior Citizen Mother and I think is interesting to see when Netflix acquires it. But I also have so many other things to watch from Netflix that I can wait. It doesn't bother me as much as some others to wait. Gives us something to look forward to later on.

dAVe

I'm quite happy to wait for the Blu-ray release of Premium Channel original content because there are several benefits: 1) no satellite/Internet transmission compression, 2) no annoying "Next Up/Premier Announcement" pop-up's, 3) no animated channel icon embossing and last but not least 4) full and better motion control of pause, frame advance, slow/fast forwards, chapters.

Hank

@tsr, the "entitlement" is not that we expect something for free, but that we expect it on our terms (in a format and at a price that WE think is fair) and if that's not offered we'll just take it anyway.

You may not agree with how HBO delivers or prices its content, but that only entitles you to take it or leave it. You have the right to choose not to shop at Best Buy, but you don't have the right to grab that DVD and throw a twenty at them as you're running out the door.

Bob E.

Game of Thrones? A pay channel exclusive. I can't even find "V" streaming and that's free on ABC. Even Cablevision doesn't have it Free on Demand and they have about 12 other ABC shows Free on Demand. HBO is trying to get people to pay $12 per month, what is ABC doing?

hypocrisy rules

HBO: "No soup for you!!!"

TZ

HBO is dooming themselves. It's not about people saying they're entitled to free content.

It's about ease of viewing content. If HBO made it easier to see their content, then a lot less people would pirate HBO content

It's about business, not piracy and entitlement

Seth

@jukeboxfun: I can't read it either.

Kyle

@TZ

It's not hard to view HBO content. Call Comcast or whoever and subscribe to HBO. How is that hard? If you don't have a cable subscription, you wait for the DVD like everyone else who didn't pay for it.

I'm not much into defending Time Warner or other large corporations, but there's not much to rationalize here about why people are pirating.

Marv

To those who can't read it - don't try to read the image posted here, click on the link and read that one.

@TZ (and others): So the point it that you're worried about piracy so you're trying to help HBO fight it? Yeah, right. The point is that you're trying to come up with rationalizations for saying HBO should make it avaiable for you to buy, by saying their current model is encouraging people to pirate it. Well, I say let them worry about their business model. I never bought the idea of "I pirate it because it isn't available for me to buy". That's BS - most people who don't have a problem with piracy will just not pay for something they can get for free.

Tom

For years HBO insisted on complete control and exclusivity. Now they are allowing DirecTV and Dish Network to stream and soon will have an Apple and Android app. I think this is progress.

And I wonder (very speculatively) if Dish is hoping that HBO will allow Blockbuster customers streaming access by way of some HBO only subscription plan.

BP

I can see and agree with both sides of the issue here.

Is HBO's content deserving of theft simply because you can't get it how you want at the price you want? No. File-sharing is theft, plain and simple. There is absolutely no way to justify that. It would be no different from someone pirating a program from Netflix simply because it's only available on Netflix and they can't afford to pay for it or can't subscribe to Netflix in their country.

That said, is any company that refuses to change with the winds and react quickly and forcefully to market pressure deserving of having its bottom line knocked down a few pegs? Yes. It just so happens HBO hasn't felt any of that pressure yet. This is no different than the relationship between music file-sharers and the music industry. They're both to blame for the sorry state of things, the freetards for stealing no matter how cheap or easy they can get the music and the industry for failing to even try to accommodate the modern consumer.

Zero day streaming is a privilege we have become accustomed to in a fairly advanced technological society. It is not an innate right. To think otherwise is to be self-entitled. You can either subscribe to HBO, wait for it to be released to streaming or buy/rent the DVDs when they come out - IF they decide to release DVDs, and IF they don't, I'll give you one guess as to why they wouldn't. Hmm, gee, I wonder who it is that cheaped out and stopped buying DVDs and instead beg and cry and would be willing to cheat and steal to have the content now now now now now? You. That's who.

HBO, nay cable itself, is an outmoded form of distribution, but that doesn't make it not wildly popular or wildly profitable, because it's both. Until it stops being both nothing will change. Replacing that wildly popular and wildly profitable machine with one that is wildly popular but, err, not so wildly profitable is not the solution. HBO could not survive on whatever stipend Netflix could afford to give it. They might not need the full $12-20 a month, that's not my judgment call to make and it isn't yours either, but they sure as hell need more than the $3 or $5. If you could pay $10 a month for HBO and $8 a month for Netflix, would you? Would they?

What if Comcast stipulates that HBO can't go a la carte in their contract? What if the cable providers threatened to drop all of HBO's channels if they tried to go a la carte? What then? HBO knows that people will pirate their content no matter what, and they've made a fairly successful bet that honest people would rather pay for their service or wait for cheaper legal alternative distribution to watch it.

Or, and guess what, this is how I used to watch Stargate SG-1, Six Feet Under, the Sopranos, Dead Like Me and a whole slew of premium only shows... I went over to my best friend's house along with a few other people and we all had a party while watching the shows. Imagine that. Being social. While watching TV. Who'd have thought?

It isn't always as black and white as people like to make it out to be. A lot of you people like to jump all over Hank when he is doing nothing more than pointing out that no matter how much a business might be asking for it you still do not have carte blanche to rip them off. I doubt he would ever not hold a company accountable for their own failures, and if piracy or cord cutting became so endemic that a company faced certain doom if it didn't lower prices or find alternative distribution, I doubt he'd hold back in chastising them for stubbornly sticking to a business model that was killing them. Right after he chided freetards for not wanting to pay for good content.

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of hoops people, and that includes companies, are willing to jump through to justify their actions. No matter the context or backstory, if you're going to steal, just steal, and acknowledge that what you're doing is stealing. Do you think CEOs and chairmen sit around their boardrooms trying to convince themselves that what they're doing is right? That polluting the Gulf and then litigating their way out of claims is right? That instituting bandwidths caps under the guise of network stability is right? Do you think record executives try to justify blackballing great artists because they want master rights or because they want more than $1/cd? Do you think they do that? If you do, you're naive and wrong. They know what they're doing, and they do it anyway. You should, too.

And if those companies should finally cave to external pressures and change their ways? Then they deserve your money and you should pay the fuck up, because any other action on your part cuts through your supposed integrity like a scalpel through flesh.

-BP

Lynne

Bob E. I think that maybe the problem with ABC not taking the time to stream "V" means the show is in trouble. I hope ABC proves me wrong and signs "V" up for a third season. They might realize that they had no intention of extending "V" to 3 season. They did the same with "Witches of Eastwick" last year. Although, I think they are losing a lot of revenue not allowing Hulu.com to stream "V" and get Ad revenue for it as well as their own ABC website.

HBO seems to me to want people to watch their Cable channel unfortunately you cannot buy into one channel only -- I'm sure it will be put in DVD and I and others will be able to watch it later from Netflix. :-)

PS3 fanboi

I got rid of the cable a year ago. Haven't missed it since, with only one exception. New HBO programming. I'd be willing to pay $10-15 for just HBO alone. But since they are stubborn, and don't want my money directly, they end up getting nothing. I was able to download an HD quality "Game of Thrones" torrent within minutes after the first episode aired. Looked great when streamed via my PS3 onto the big screen...

Maybe one day HBO will wise up and decide they do want my money after all...

Carter

BP, you say that file-sharing is theft. Someone who owns it shares it with someone else.

You said "I went over to my best friend's house along with a few other people and we all had a party while watching the shows".

Isn't that the same thing? You didn't buy/subscribe to HBO. Your friend did. He chose to share it with you.

Theft?

Mitch

I wish that HBO would have a streaming platform so I could watch current and previous series any time I wanted. I would easily pay for access to watch Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, and others again at any time I chose.

However, will I go out of my way to pirate these? No way. Game Of Thrones will not be NEARLY as enjoyable in substandard quality. I want to see this series in HD and will wait for the Blu release later this year.

Joe

The show was pretty boring to me. I don't see what all the nerd hype is about.

Racket

Illegally downloading content from HBO is copyright infringement. It is NOT STEALING. You are accessing a file/show/whatever that you are not authorized to access. HBO still has the show and can still monetize it. Stealing means that you are physically taking something that cannot be copied and cannot be monetized by the owner. Keep copyright infringement in perspective relative to stealing.

@Marv
A black market economy is created due to artificial scarcity, artificial pricing, or illegality(drugs). Contrary to what you state about people "pirating", numerous studies bear out that people WILL pay when the price meets their expected value.

Illegal downloading of movies is actually in decline in the US. It is due in large part to companies like Netflix and Hulu. This proves that people ARE willing to pay. According to Reed Hastings the number one competitor for Netflix is "piracy". They are competing with free and they are doing very well.

Illegally downloading takes time and has risk. The risk is not the Hollywood mafia, its the risk of a virus, wrongly named files, incomplete files, crappy encodes, crappy content that took a long time to download that sucks and you just delete it, ect. Illegally downloading files has a cost to the down loader, just because we don't assign a specific dollar value to it doesn't mean that it is no cost. Through ease of access, an easy interface, ease of use, trusted content and low cost, content providers can compete with illegal downloading.

Without the illegal down loaders going way back to napster we would not have the great legal options we have today, Itunes, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and so on. So if you want to ride the moral high horse that's great but keep in mind you are riding on ground built by the very same "pirates" you rail against.

A pirate is a rapist, murderer, kidnapper, pillager who does it all for money. Its a shame that this same term is used to describe someone who infringes on copyrighted material.

dAVe

Someday in the cyber future, there will be chipset implants that will allow legal viewing via mental projections of entertainment content because, after all, the fact that human beings have and use eyeballs/ears is a fundamental security loophole in copyright licensing.
#NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement

Truck

I think the comic is pretty pathetic, but it does raise an interesting point in my head: Game of Thrones is reaching new demographics and making a lot of people want a subscription. Ever since Band of Brothers and The Sopranos made millions of people sign up for HBO they've been rooting out every niche to get more subscribers, and this series seems to have worked quite well once again. You didn't see webcomics whining about not being able to stream Treme, but in New Orleans they had viewing parties in bars and it was the talk of the town.

Racket

I saw Game of Thrones this weekend at my in-laws. I didn't realize there were so many HBO channels, like 10. Game of Thrones was on seemingly every hour on the hour, I even saw it in Spanish. Its the best thing I have seen from HBO in awhile, but its dire wolves and dragon eggs and I just don't see it attracting the broad non-geek audiences.

Interestingly enough I saw on the fios menu that the "Hills Have Eyes" was playing over on Cinemax so I excitedly switched over to see the horror classic remake. It took less than a second to realize I had misread the menu, it was the "Hills Have Thighs".

jheartney

Rather than looking at piracy as a moral issue, try looking at it as a market signal.

As Racket point out, pirating content has a fairly high PITA factor; lousy encodes, broken files, lots of waiting, potential viruses, etc. The fact that numerous people are doing it suggests that a substantial part of the potential market finds the price unacceptably high.

Lots of posters are suggesting that content owners are justified in charging whatever price they like, which is fine from a moral point of view but stupid from the owner's point of view if they end up losing their shirts to the pirates because they are charging too much. You can be both morally right and flat broke, and that's what happened to the record companies when they tried to retain their outdated distribution model in the Napster era.

Reed Hastings is pointing the way to a new distribution model which, if not being quite as profitable as the old one, still allows content owners to be paid, albeit not as well as they might like.

For legacy businesses like HBO, the coming transition away from the high-priced cable distribution model, and toward streamed content, will probably involve some downsizing and loss of revenue. Sorry, but I don't have much sympathy; I've known many many people whose old jobs evaporated as technology changed. They survived and so will HBO, if it can get off its butt and figure out how to live in the new era rather than pushing to keep around the old one long after it's over.

Casey4147

In a similar vein, I was thrilled to get a note in my Dish Network bill a month or so ago stating I am getting STARZ for free for a year. Not sure why, maybe it's a promo they're giving everyone or maybe it's a thank-you because I've been with them for fifteen years, don't much care. It means I get to see CAMELOT, and in a couple of months TORCHWOOD - MIRACLE DAY, two series I was very much wanting to see but wouldn't have subscribed just to have. I have no problem buying $2 episodes on iTunes and figured I'd get them that way, or via NetFlix Streaming after the delay window, but the freebie from Dish means I get to watch them right away. But I wouldn't have subscribed to the channel just to get those two series.

I'm also curious to see GAME OF THRONES, and if I had a way of seeing it other than subscribing to the channel set for $15 a month, I would. It's just not worth the extra cost per month for me. I'd iTunes it, or wait for the DVDs to get released. It's not going to kill me to not see it right away, and it's most certainly not worth pirating to see.

Hank

Racket, if I take your car in the middle of the night and go out for a spin is that STEALING? What if I hack in and take over 99% of the bandwidth of your home network?

Your definition of "stealing" is merely a semantic wankathon.

Racket

@Hank
Your analogy doesn't work. You would have to photocopy my car and then keep it. Words and language matter. If I illegally download Iron Man, I have not prevented Warner Brothers from making a sale. If I walk into Walmart and steal a copy of Iron Man on DVD I have prevented Warner Brothers from making a sale. Contrary to those studio produced adds at the beginning of some dvds, the laws are pretty clear in defining the difference between copyright infringement and stealing.

Hank

Racket, you get your car back in the morning so where's the crime in that. Plus I might stay at your house while you're away and borrow some of your clothes to boot. How about I root around in your garage and take all the things you aren't using and forgot that you had, you won't even miss them.

If you steal a copy of Iron Man on DVD from Walmart you haven't cost them a sale unless you took their absolute last copy. otherwise it's just 9 cents worth of plastic to them. Heck, you'd be doing them a favor by getting rid of their excess inventory (what are the odds they're going to sell each and every copy, actually). If you take an iPad, but leave $27 to cover the cost of the raw materials is that really stealing?

There does not have to be a clear cost to the owner for it to be considered stealing (as in the cases I outlined above). But, in actuality, when you steal intellectual property you are costing the owner money in the form of a lost potential sale.

Words matter, but that does not mean that you can pick an arbitrary definition of a word (e.g. steal) and hold everyone to the use of that particular definition. Most dictionaries will support the use of the word "steal" as I have used it and it is unlikely that most legal texts create such a crystal clear distinction as you have made.

I don't think you would like the logical consequences of your liberal interpretation of (intellectual) property laws. Squatters would be allowed to sit in unsold houses, neighbors would borrow your weed whacker without permission, your wife would be the town slut, ... (ok, maybe not that last one).

The principle of basic property (intellectual or otherwise) law is simple - it's yours and you can do what you want with it, sell it, loan it, give it away and nobody else has a right to take it or even borrow it without your permission. To take something that isn't yours (even if no provable harm is done to the owner) is commonly known as stealing.

Racket

@Hank
The comparison still doesn't work. Intellectual property is an idea that once created can be copied endlessly with zero additional cost. You wrote the key word here the "lost potential sale". Potential sale and sale are two extremely different things. Walmart will sell every last DVD, in the end they end up in a giant bin for a buck. If they don't sell in one area of the country they will be sent to another depending on volume. If "The Hurt Locker" was not so heavily torrented, it would have gone largely unseen.

If you drive around in my car you will accumulate mileage that is currently valued at .51 cents per mile. All other examples you have given have an actual cost not a potential cost and that is the biggest difference.

Copyright infringement is a crime, but it is less of a crime than stealing because potential sales and actual sales, potential costs and actual costs are different.

Racket

@Hank
Don't take my word for it:

"Copyright holders frequently refer to copyright infringement as "theft". In law copyright infringement does not refer to actual theft, but an instance where a person exercises one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder without authorization.[5] Courts have distinguished between copyright infringement and theft, holding, for instance, in the United States Supreme Court case Dowling v. United States (1985) that bootleg phonorecords did not constitute stolen property and that "...interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright... 'an infringer of the copyright.'" In the case of copyright infringement the province guaranteed to the copyright holder by copyright law is invaded, i.e. exclusive rights, but no control, physical or otherwise, is taken over the copyright, nor is the copyright holder wholly deprived of using the copyrighted work or exercising the exclusive rights held."

Supreme Court ruling:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowling_v._United_States_%281985%29

"Article 61 of the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires criminal procedures and penalties in cases of "wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale""

The copyright cartel has pushed very hard to include individual file sharing as "commercial scale". It is working in the US and some parts of Europe, but will never fly in the rest of the world. History shows that nations with strong copyright/patent laws fall behind those with loose laws, because in cases of strong laws it inhibits the free flow of ideas.

Alex

Media content producers are one of the few businesses that intentionally put barriers between their products and their consumers.

You can buy X product (tv show), but only if you buy it from Store A(cable) or Store B(satellite). And you can't just buy X product, but you'll have to buy Bundle C (basic/digital cable) which contains 80 products(channels) you don't want, then buy our Add-on D which contains 45 products(programs/movies) just to get X product.

Imagine buying groceries, clothing, or any consumable item (which media is these days) this way. Carrots would _only_ be sold to you providing you a) paid your membership dues to give you access to the store shelves (cable subscription), b) bought the household bundle (which includes cleaning supplies, light bulbs, some salad), c) bought the carrots add-on.

Much of what I watch is often foreign origin. These foreign content producers don't seem to understand there is a market in the US for their products. I'd love to buy their products, but they've made it impossible to do so. They won't sell their products here, and if I try to import them the DVDs are region-locked. Which leaves an obvious alternative option. This also happens in reverse. I know of a more than a few data centers in this area with DirecTV dishes on the roof. Inside you'll see a stack of 12-25 DirecTV receivers attached to computers w/encoders. All of that content's getting beamed to Europe via the internet. and the content providers aren't getting a dime of that Euro traffic.

What kills me is that I'm willing to pay a premium for content. I just spent $40 per CD to have 3 foreign CDs imported to the US. Despite being on major labels, the record cos here won't sell them. That could have been $40 paid to them rather than the importers and post.

The content providers are shooting themselves in the foot. This is one of the few times when I reluctantly have to say Comcast/DirecTV aren't the bad guys here. They're often forced to carry (and bundle) channels by the content providers. Want ESPN on your cable system? Fine, every single one of your subscribers MUST have it AND Comcast is forced to pay $5/mo for every single subscriber they have. And that's just one group of channels. It's even worse than that actually.

Own a hotel? Want ESPN in your rooms? Then you MUST show ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNews on all of your TVs. This means extra receivers and modulators to push the signal out. At least an extra $2-5k depending on the system. Again, this is just ONE broadcaster you're trying to accommodate here.

The content providers are going to have to change. Back when they first started, they pretty much were the only game in town. It was HBO or the theater. Then we had the option of the mom & pop video store with a couple hundred titles. Now there's more options out there than any of us could watch in our lifetime, and it's just beginning. Now they're not the only game in town and will need to adjust or go by the wayside. Makes me wonder how the telegraph companies handled the influx of telephones.

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