Australia, for its population, pirates an incredible amount of programming. The continent is responsible for 16% of all illegal Breaking Bad downloads, for instance. And Game of Thrones is no exception.
In Australia, GoT is distributed by a company called Foxtel (rather than HBO), which is half-owned by News Corp. Foxtel, which reports that a fifth of its 2.5 million subscribers chose to steal the show on BitTorrent rather than watching it legally. From TorrentFreak:
“People are just in the habit of illegal downloads,” [News Corp CEO] Thomson said. “Australians have very bad habits--piracy happens to be one of them.”
Of course, Thomson does have a point. Habits can be very hard things to break, especially ones that have proven so useful over the years. Australians have long complained of being treated as second class citizens when it comes to media availability, so BitTorrent networks have proven extremely popular, as borne out by prominent Aussie placings in TV show downloading charts.
But in this case, there’s a catch: Game of Thrones is available for subscriber streaming to Australians through Foxtel, much like the US has HBO Go. So all this pirating wasn’t spawned merely by the consumer drive to have something on-demand, it was driven by the familiarity of a routine (and maybe the added flexibility torrenting offered in playback devices, etc).
What does this mean for content providers designing the future of user experience? Well for one, at least a lot of people “stealing” the content have technically already paid for it (so if they turn to the black market rather than your app, no sweat). But maybe more importantly, this Game of Thrones situation could be a bit of proof that no matter how enticing your platform may be, it might not be enticing enough to break a whole ecosystem of habits. If subscribers prefer to torrent, don’t just fight it; design your service to enable them to torrent.
[Hat tip: reddit]