Seven more countries just got HBO Go, why hasn’t Australia?

Angus Kidman 1 December 2017 NEWS

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In this game of thrones, Bulgaria seems to be a step ahead.

HBO, the US premium cable channel which produces Game Of Thrones and a zillion other great shows, is justly renowned for offering high quality productions. HBO Go, its service that allows customers to watch its shows online (for an ongoing subscription fee), has been available in the US since 2010 and has been steadily rolling out across the globe ever since.

This week, the channel added another seven countries to the inventory. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia can now enjoy access to the service. But citizens of Australia don't yet have that option.

There's a simple reason for this. HBO has a multi-year deal with Foxtel that gives Foxtel access to all of HBO's programming, both for broadcast on Foxtel's pay TV channels and on its Foxtel Now streaming service. As long as that deal is in place, HBO Go won't be an option Down Under. While you might be able to work around that and sign up in the US or another country using a VPN and an overseas credit card, that's a lot of work, and there's still no guarantee the service would work.

This scenario has led to a lot of online complaints which usually take this form: "I want to pay for watching Game Of Thrones online, but I don't want to give my money to Foxtel." That complaining became particularly loud when Foxtel Now had a meltdown after Season 7 launched earlier this year.

As I've noted before, this view ignores the fact that no-one has an inalienable human right to watch Game of Thrones on the service of their choosing. For HBO, it's purely a business decision. If Foxtel offers more money for local rights than HBO believes it could make through setting up a streaming service, that's the way it will go.

The response of some annoyed netizens then becomes the following: "Right, in that case I'll just pirate it". OK, if you must. Piracy is an endemic problem for broadcasters, and I don't doubt that some people would pirate even if HBO Go was available locally. But there's no profound moral logic in saying "if I can't get this exactly the way I want, then I'm entitled to pirate it".

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 regularly on finder.com.au.

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