How Game of Thrones crashed Foxtel

Angus Kidman 18 July 2017 NEWS

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A rush of last-minute sign-ups led to streaming misery for many.

Online viewing of the much-anticipated first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones got off to a rocky start last night, with Foxtel's on-demand viewing platform Foxtel Now crashing and burning in a fashion that would presumably delight some of the more bloodthirsty residents of Westeros.

Social media was flooded with complaints, with many viewers reporting that they were unable to view the episode at all, or encountering bizarre error codes like this one:

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Foxtel blamed the issue on a last-minute rush of viewers signing up for a Foxtel Now subscription, which is the cheapest way to legally view the show.

"As was the case in the US and Latin America, the unprecedented rush for a subscription just prior to the telecast crashed the system," Foxtel spokesperson Bruce Meagher said in a statement. "Foxtel engineers are working through the night to resolve the issue. It’s most unfortunate and we apologise to those affected. We are committed to resolving the technical faults immediately and together with our broadcast partners around the world, we are giving this the same degree of priority."

How much difference will this make in the long run? It's hard to tell. Anyone with a full Foxtel subscription would have been able to record the show on their IQ box, and Foxtel has scheduled encore screenings throughout the week if you forgot to program your box the first time (Tuesday 12pm and 9:15pm, Wednesday 1:20pm, Thursday 10:10pm, Friday 11:25am, Saturday 8:30pm). But that's cold comfort to anyone who didn't want the full pay TV service and saw Foxtel Now as a more affordable alternative.

Game of Thrones review

But not every Thrones fan falls neatly into either category. A recent survey by finder found that 32% of Australian fans of the show planned to watch Game of Thrones through "traditional" Foxtel and a further 12% through Foxtel Now. More than a quarter of us (26%) intend to wait until the show is available legally as a digital download or on DVD.

That leaves 30% of Australians who plan to download the show illegally. They won't have been impacted by last night's glitch and some of them will doubtless gloat that it proves there's no point in paying for a flaky service. But at this point, I doubt they'd sign up even if the cost was slashed and the entire process proceeded without a glitch. In the modern media environment, there's never going to be a single choice that everyone embraces.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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