View Finder: Foxtel Morghulis

Nick Broughall 21 July 2017 NEWS

game of thrones piracy

And the Dark Nolan rises against Netflix's movie strategy.

Earlier this week, I managed to upset a handful of people in a crowded elevator as it descended towards the ground floor by beginning a sentence with, "The first casualty of Season 7 of Game of Thrones was..." By the time I reached the word "Game", a chorus of "No!" and "Stop! I haven't watched it yet" threatened to drown out the end of my sentence.

But I persevered. "The first casualty of Season 7 of Game of Thrones was... Foxtel," I finished. There was a collective groan before the elevator doors opened and the group dispersed and the conversation moved onto Foxtel's well-documented failure to deal with the demand of the show's return.

As we've already discussed, Foxtel has confirmed that the issue was not so much with the Now servers handling the delivery of the episode, but with the number of people signing up to Foxtel Now in order to try and watch the show. The number of subscriptions to Now jumped by 40% in the 48 hours before the show went to air. On top of that, the system that identifies what content Foxtel Now customers are eligible to access jumped from its typical 5,000 requests a day to 70,000 in just a few hours on Monday.

Naturally, Foxtel has been crucified on social media for failing to anticipate the demand. There is some justification in this outrage. Foxtel has very publicly gone out of its way to become the only legitimate source for watching Game of Thrones, and given the recent rebrand of Foxtel Play to Foxtel Now and the technical improvements that came along with that, it's not surprising that customers put off by Foxtel Play's disappointing user experience and quality would be willing to give the pay TV service another go.

Foxtel has promised that it is doing everything possible to ensure that the same problems don't plague the service for the second episode next week. However, given the fact that our own research shows that 30% of Australians were already planning on torrenting the show before this week's server failure, the real question is whether Foxtel's failure will push more people to source the show from illegitimate sources.

The Dark Nolan rises

Christopher Nolan seems to be celebrating yet another cinematic masterpiece accomplishment, with early reviews of his war film Dunkirk glowingly positive. But the man behind The Dark Knight trilogy has this week turned his focus to Netflix, and, in particular, criticising the streaming service's approach to theatrical releases.

In an interview with IndieWire on the press circuit for Dunkirk, the IMAX-loving Nolan described Netflix's strategy of releasing movies in theatres and online simultaneously as a "mindless policy".

"They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation," Nolan said. "So they’re not even getting in the game and I think they’re missing a huge opportunity."

Of course, Nolan would say that. The director has a well-known affection for using film, and IMAX's 70mm film in particular, to help create the large immersive worlds that carry his stories. Watching a Nolan film on a flat screen at home doesn't quite do those epic scenes justice, and it's expected that an artist would want you to view their work on the canvas it was created for.

But still, given the fact it costs $7 for a bottle of water at the cinema these days, it's hardly a surprise that many people just want to watch a movie from the comfort of their own home. And given that Netflix's business model is all about subscribers, it's not surprising that it would want to cater to that idea.

Trailer of the week: Things are looking Bright

We've seen teasers, but Netflix dropped the first full trailer for the Will Smith fantasy film Bright this week, and it looks... interesting.

Meanwhile, anyone looking forward to the third season of Narcos is in for a treat.

Each week, View Finder rounds up the latest news in TV and movie streaming in Australia.

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