Game of Thrones: How not to distribute content

The ever popular Game of Thrones is an example of how not to distribute content says Cathie McGinn.

The incredibly popular HBO series Game of Thrones is a fascinating case study. Not only in terms of constructing and maintaining dramatic tension in a TV series, but also in how not to distribute content.

It’s proof that content distribution needs a new model. The show has become not only one of the most successful series aired on the US subscription network, but more notably, it is the most pirated TV show of all time.

Moments after each episode screened on HBO in the US, record numbers of people were downloading the program on torrent sites. It averaged around 3m downloads per episode, a high proportion of them in Australia.

Aussies with cable could have watched the program legally, but not until a week later. What this means for fans of the show is a week of trying not to talk to anyone who watched, or visit most of the internet lest they happen upon a plot spoiler. My colleague’s viewing pleasure was ruined when he saw a YouTube death montage, including a pivotal scene in an episode he was yet to watch.

For non-cable subscribers uncomfortable with pirating, it means the show is something they’re now, given declining DVD sales, less likely to see. We know 3m downloaded the show illegally; what we don’t know is how many people heard about it, tried to access it legally, failed and gave up. Turn this on its head and what you get is simultaneous global talk around a piece of content which allows viewers to become the marketing channel.

There are plenty of channels to distribute content legally that allow producers to make more money and reach the largest possible audience. The consequences are clear: if you don’t give the people what they want, when they want it, they’ll circumvent legal channels and access it through other means – or never watch it at all.

Cathie McGinn

Comments


  1. Tiki Godzilla
    6 Aug 12
    11:56 am

  2. The night is dark and full of terrors.

  3. Nick Peters
    6 Aug 12
    11:56 am

  4. The distribution model is dumb isn’t it? I pay a shit load of money each month for cable, not sure why I have to wait a week to see something that is out there in this day and age.

    Be interesting to see what the ABC does with the next series of Dr Who. Back in April on the back of poor viewing figures for the premiere of Mad Men Season 5, Mark Scott tweeted this:

    Maybe the window following US/UK broadcast needs to be hours, not days or weeks for a keen audience not to find other ways to watch. #madmen— Mark Scott (@abcmarkscott) April 13, 2012

    So they are aware of the issue, but last year they waited almost a week to air episodes of Dr Who, presumably so it would go out on a Saturday night. I’d imagine there’s a big torrenting (let’s not call it pirating) audience for Dr Who

  5. Nick Peters
    6 Aug 12
    12:01 pm

  6. Oh, and I forgot to mention this Oatmeal cartoon on legally watching Game of Thrones. NB: contains language that may offend.
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

  7. Ash
    6 Aug 12
    12:03 pm

  8. In today’s world waiting for a week before we can legally watch a TV show is ridiculousness (this goes for movies too). I would gladly pay for a service where I can legally download a TV series when it airs in the US (In Australia!).

    P.S. for those that want to know more on Game of Thrones, I hear the plot has been spoilt in the book….

  9. Scott Rhodie
    6 Aug 12
    1:00 pm

  10. What’s even more annoying is that even with a US iTunes account you cannot get Game of Thrones because HBO don’t want to make it available except to their cable subscribers.

    Great Forbes article on this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/er.....es-piracy/

  11. Elly
    6 Aug 12
    1:03 pm

  12. Brilliant cartoon – SAYS IT ALL!

  13. zzzz
    6 Aug 12
    1:04 pm

  14. yes the book is full of spoilers and much and more….about time day and date was a guarantee when it comes to pay tv – dexter, madmen, game of thrones etc…….interesting issue – channel 7 lost more than 20% of the downton abbey audience by long windowing it – when it was legally available to buy online in old fashioned dvd format.

  15. B
    6 Aug 12
    1:05 pm

  16. @ash, but I felt the novelisation was a bit long, and included material that the writer, someone called George Martin, made up and wasn’t in the series.

    ;-)

  17. Sarah
    6 Aug 12
    1:10 pm

  18. Nick – are they waiting a week to air it or are they contractually obliged to hold it for a week before airing? I’m thinking the latter and in that case it is again an issue for producers to understand that popularity, legal or not, is actually something they need to embrace and if they want to make money from it focus on it. Hours not days is absolutely the solution so people need to ease up on unrealistic rights.

  19. Jerry
    6 Aug 12
    1:22 pm

  20. The legal obligation is or can be negotiated to less than a week but probably at a substantial cost. Australia cannot air before the US and because of the way the world turns, we are ahead of the US in time so Australia has to wait until the following day. The fastest turn around between the two countries’ prime times is 33 hours – as you will see with The Walking Dead on FX (shameless plug).

  21. Adrian
    6 Aug 12
    1:25 pm

  22. I have been wondering for some time how Australian channels are going to fare with all of this new ‘availability of content’.
    Due to the limited amount of viewers in Australia we do not really have the capacity to compete with the larger scale productions as far as content is concerned…but
    instead of fostering any kind of future in original Australian drama it seems the channels are mainly focused on the ‘reality genre’.
    I am just wondering where this will lead when the reality format becomes exhausted.
    Then again, I got bored of it a long time ago and it’s still here so I probably know nothing.
    I see a future where there will be no set-top boxes. There will be an internet connection, a laptop and a TV used as a large computer screen.
    Then the public will watch what it wants when it wants.
    The days of TV Execs deciding programming is quickly coming to an end.
    They should focus on a good internet website and viewer GUI which will link to production companies for worldwide simultaneous distribution…then they can screen it in 2 or 3 parts and throw in an add or 2…any more adds than that and people will probably still illegally get it though.

  23. Stéphane
    6 Aug 12
    1:38 pm

  24. It’s always fun to think that the ones who buy the bluray/dvd have to bear one minute of FBI warning they can’t skip.
    The ones who rent it will have , in addition, commercials or trailers for other movies.
    The ones who download their episode through a VOD service will have to face DRM-related issues for playing the thing.
    And the piratebay user can just sit back and relax. And tell how bad, slow and empty that second season is anyway.

  25. JDB
    6 Aug 12
    1:40 pm

  26. How long before producers realise that a global online pay per view is the way forward. Especially if shows like GoT are to continue, and deliver the production quality that viewers now expect.

    If they cut out the middlemen, cut out the ads and allow people to watch the whole series on demand, enough will happily pay. (If they keep the pricing keen)

    This may be a dream with our current broadband network, but the world is getting faster, and this dream may not be too far off.

  27. Riarn
    6 Aug 12
    2:03 pm

  28. Once again the comments have more relevance than the article. Valid points of discussion and that comic is pretty funny.
    What is strange is how all these seperate avenues of distribution seem to find it so hard to get right, what simple internet site users have worked out years ago.
    eztv has every episode of any show worth watching up within 1-2 hours of it hitting US TV. This is when you NEED to see it if you are a fan, because those same shows twitter accounts give you all the spoilers straight after the episode is over. I love Suits but they are the biggest bandit for it (#savedonna tag was trending about 5mins after the show ended).
    Here is a simple solution. How about Australian media companies employ content producers out of the US and negotiate rights for us to watch these episodes on ‘catch up TV’ platforms 1-2 hours after they air internationally. The same TV stations get the revenue and we all know how much premium content video is in short supply in Australia. Boom, case solved. Someone get on it.

  29. JIm
    6 Aug 12
    2:11 pm

  30. If they refuse to change as a business let them lose the money. Its not like piracy is going anywhere quickly.

  31. Alice
    6 Aug 12
    2:15 pm

  32. Give all the rights to Apple, put it on iTunes and price it accordingly.

    …oh wait, Aussies… we already get that ;-) At least we’re winning at something.

  33. Grant
    6 Aug 12
    2:27 pm

  34. Remember last year when Foxtel were crowing about Game of Thrones Season 1 premiering on a pay-per-view channel? Shame it was starting 2 weeks after Season 1 had ended in the USA. Some of us who would have cared enough to pay for it (if we could be bothered with cable, of course) had already finished it & were getting ready for the next season of True Blood.

    Where’s the value add, folks? Why should I pay for cable when it’s full of crap & behind the scenes?

    We’re happy to buy seasons of TV on DVD so we can dredge them up a year or more later, watch the extra bits & so on. Meanwhile, eztv and co mean we don’t have to wait for ages to watch a show then often have to sit through moronic, painful adverts.

    Wonder how long the TV stations & cable companies will survive if we’re all plugged into feeds direct from the producers, watching whatever we want whenever we want from multiple sources? Sounds a bit like what’s happening to the newspapers, no?

  35. John Grono
    6 Aug 12
    3:09 pm

  36. Sarah, you are correct that there are legal and contractual issues. But clearly the basis of these contracts need to be smarter/quicker.

  37. Simon
    6 Aug 12
    3:53 pm

  38. It’s not just drama. I watched the Olympic 10,000 meters on BBC through a streaming service over the weekend because Channel 9 refused to show it live. That was a delay of just an hour….

  39. John Grono
    6 Aug 12
    4:01 pm

  40. oops … I pushed Submit.

    Jerry, you are 100% correct that ‘first play’ is based on when it first airs in the originating country, meaning there has to be a slight delay window. After all, why should Kiribati get to see programmes before the US, UK etc when the programme is made there.

    JDB, there is ONE flaw in your argument. Pay Per View (download or stream) delivers the money AFTER the production is completed. When series like Game of Thrones is made millions of dollars have to be stumped up to gire studios, writers, directors, producers, soundmen, cameramen, make-up, wardrobe, actors, gaffers, accountants … and all these people (rightly) want to be paid each week and not a couple of years later when post production is finally completed and the content is released. They also do NOT want to work on content that may not be released at all, or that through no fault of their own is a stinker and raises hundreds of dollars rather than thousands or millions of dollars – effectively meaning that they don’t get paid. Ask yourself, would you agree to that?

    Most producers I know factor in some ‘back-end’ revenue share for sales already (DVD, online streams, online downloads, website spin-off, merchandise etc.) but it would be in the low single percentage points of all the funding (and it still has to be shared around to the actors etc).

    So if you, or anyone else. has some bright ideas how to overcome this nexus – currently filled by movie studios, TV production studios and broadcasters around the world who stump up billions upon billions of dollars every year (with zero guarantee of a return) – then please share them.

  41. Me
    6 Aug 12
    4:54 pm

  42. @John Grono

    Yes. Yes. But all this wishful thinking doesn’t overcome that the internet’s fundamental function is to copy things.

    Your nexus is dying because nobody can control distribution any more. How do you propose recreating pre-internet conditions? Crippling the web as the Americans want to do to prevent copying? Criminalising people for using new technology as intended? Spying on everything people do to prevent them from copying? (All policies of US big content.)

    And this so-called “problem” is about to be felt by every industry everywhere when the 3DPrinters get cranking. Who’s going to go shopping for material goods when they can just grab a pattern from The Pirate Bay and print them?

  43. Sydney
    6 Aug 12
    5:07 pm

  44. John Grono: if “TV production studios and broadcasters around the world who stump up billions upon billions of dollars every year (with zero guarantee of a return)”… then surely there is a market opportunity for investment groups to stump up the cash in advance for the eventual payoff of a pay-per-view model.

    After all, the guarantee of return can’t really be zero — there’s no business in the world that stumps up “billions and billions” of dollars with no certainty of return. They know from past track record that a percentage of shows are going to be highly profitable… and so would investment groups acting as funders for shows.

  45. JDB
    6 Aug 12
    5:10 pm

  46. @ Grono.

    You’re right someone does need to front the bill, and a post pay solution in isolation does not solve the whole problem. It can be solved and probably with better thinking than mine, not that it stopped me having a go.

    What if TV company is not the producer. With millions now being raised online for products that people will build tomorrow. Why not for TV programs that people actually want to see made and watch?
    Then make it profit share based on a nominal percentage of those that pay to watch. Then everyone wins.

  47. Flyn
    6 Aug 12
    5:10 pm

  48. Game industries are combating piracy with content clients like Steam. Selling games, updating and constantly communicating directly to their core users. Overheads are lower, distribution instant and useful data (like most played games, duration, replay-ability etc. are recorded.) It makes downloading a game a click rather than sourcing the internet looking for pirated software, CD keys etc.

    I would think something similar would work well for TV and Movie content. Just sayin’

  49. John Grono
    6 Aug 12
    5:11 pm

  50. Hi me.

    Of course I’m not proposing creating pre-internet conditions. What I am saying is that the old model (which clearly was very successful but is broken under the new paradigm) MUST change, but to date I have not seen any models that work on the large scale required to ‘feed the beast’.

    A model with some promise is ‘crowd-sourcing’ – but someone please enlighten me as to the content that has been successful (audience and financially) under that model.

    The point is, if you want to watch ‘broadcast-quality’ content – SOMEONE has to pay for it BEFORE it is made. Judging by the comments about how eager people are to get TV content withing hours of original broadcast (or before), or to watch a decent Olympics broadcast demand for quality content is still there if not greater than ever (not bad for a dead or doomed medium).

    If all digital content is to be copyable for free, then maybe that is the model that is broken – what others have called ‘the incessant race to the bottom’.

    Seriously, if all TV and cinema content is to be a single copy sale with infinite duplication then no-one in their right mind would make anything (apart from ego gratification). Then what would there be to copy?

  51. Dante
    6 Aug 12
    5:14 pm

  52. @ Jerry – the fastest isn’t 33 hours, it’s about 7-8 hours as seen on FOX8 with American Idol and Comedy Channel with Daily Show/Colbert Report – these are all ‘same day’ as the US, not a day later.

  53. John Grono
    6 Aug 12
    5:23 pm

  54. Sydney – they already do. Next idea?

    And yes JDB, I should have said “zero guarantee on any indivdual programme”. It is a game of probabilities and bets. If you place enough bets and some come off big – you will win. Some studios bet on Waterworld – big mistake. The investors behind Red Dog took a big gamble – total winner.

    I remember going to the launch of that god-awful Steven Seagal movie ‘Under Siege’ at the cinema around 20 years ago. When we left I bumped into a member of Nine’s programming staff and he asked me what I thought. My response was something like “a load of shit B-grade movie”. His response was “yeah – should rate its socks off!” (and it did). While I am a statistician I’d make a lousy gambler on TV programmes.

    But the one thing I do know is that if you want to watch quality SOMEONE has to pay to make it and that has to be UPFRONT. It’s OK for the producers, probably the lead actors and maybe even the directors to gamble with their salaries and take some equity (i.e. risk) in a programme to reduce the cost, but for the artisans who also work on the programmes they need a pay packet juts like you and I do.

    And Flyn, you make a good point re games and I think that the TV and cinema industries can leverage parts of their model. The back-end streams of TV are akin to that model. For example, look at The Wiggles merchandise stream which can be used to fund future content.

  55. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    6 Aug 12
    6:15 pm

  56. @john Grono

    Don’t you get it? I must sigh, and roll my eyes at you.

    You see. I have been using torrents for about a decade now. And it makes me feel all smug and superior. Becuase I get to see the shows no one else in AUstralia has seen, and in some cases weeks or months ahead of the Australian schedule.

    And to me this PROVES that the problem with television is all you fat cat midddle men.

    You probably aren’t a social media expert either. So please let me make my outrageous ambit claims about a business I know nothing about.

    In fact. Your probably licking the stamp on your next comment at the moment.

  57. John Grono
    6 Aug 12
    6:35 pm

  58. Damn you AB&GR’s LC, you’re on to me!

    I’m off to the Gestetner to roneo off a few copies of the FB source-code and Apple’s i-Cloud security manual that I downloaded. Would you like me to Telex or Fax it to you before I head to the corner store for some more Grecian 2000. Hang on I could put it up on the BBS – at 52 kps it shouldn’t take longer than a few days.

  59. Me
    6 Aug 12
    9:51 pm

  60. Sorry to interrupt the group hug, boys, but the issue isn’t entitlement, it’s function.

    The Australian commercial TV industry as it stands is far too bloated to sustain itself. The bloat is not in content creation, but in repackaging and redistribution.

    We no longer need Programming Chiefs to tell us when to make an appointment to watch … well, anything. We don’t need savvy producers to create promos far superior to the cheap content they’re shovelling. We don’t even need legacy media news, which is now so shallow and under-funded the advertorials squeeze out any decent information.

    All we need is a single uploader, and popularity and inertia will take care of the rest. That’s the new “business model,” although business reality is a better definition. Work out a way to contribute to it and possibly profit , or don’t.

  61. Tom
    7 Aug 12
    3:07 am

  62. “The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it. If it’s not available under 100% your terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not having it.”

    It’s worth having a read of US journalist Andy Ihnatko’s repsonse to the whole Game of Thrones availability debate.

    http://ihnatko.com/2012/02/20/.....the-crown/

  63. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    7 Aug 12
    8:27 am

  64. @johnGrono

    Yes please. Just had my mimeograph serviced! It’s working like a trooper at the moment. So much better than those new fangled facsimilie machines.

  65. Guru Clef
    7 Aug 12
    8:58 am

  66. WOW it’s taken HBO this long to get with it, the BBC realised this some time ago with their DOCTOR WHO series. While the “viewing” audience for the aired broadcast is in decline, they are keenly aware that the show is getting downloaded and streamed on mass, so they keep producing the series anyway. If HBO is really concerned with “losing” money or ratings, they should place the series on youtube with a 3 day delay and monitise the hell out of it (that’s what funimation does), or develop a site similar to crunchy roll (with international access) and stream it via a small monthly subscription! As for why some many Australians “pirate” the show? Well I have had many discussions with foxtel (the Australian subscription broadcaster) about why they can not do a per channel subscription (pay only for channels you want), and their response was that some channels cost more than others to have (which makes no sense as I am sure we’d all pay more for the channels we want! I mean who the hell actually watches fox 1?).

  67. John Grono
    7 Aug 12
    9:11 am

  68. Sadly Me, what you are describing is a consumption model and not a business model. But I will make sure I add “popularity and inertia will take care of the rest” as a budget line. Glad you thought it was a group hug though. Dicky Bird stands with both arms out-stretched and signals four wides.

  69. Guru #2
    7 Aug 12
    9:18 am

  70. Good question Guru Clef. I have the answer – no-one watches Fox 1.

    Now if Fox 1 was a Foxtel channel that would be a different matter.

  71. StefWill
    7 Aug 12
    9:44 am

  72. The problem is not with the producers, but with the Australian Free-to-air and Cable networks. They decide what and when a show can and can’t be distributed in Australia.
    Anyone interested in a new model should read Mark Pesce’s talk “Piracy is Good? How Battlestar Galactica killed broadcast TV”
    http://www.mindjack.com/feature/piracy051305.html

  73. Dan Barrett
    7 Aug 12
    10:19 am

  74. The problem in this instance is with the distributor and not Foxtel.

    HBO only make the show available to PMP (who manage Showcase) on the day the show airs in the US. From that point, as a broadcaster, Showcase need to:

    •Download the HD file from the HBO serverQuality assess and prepare the file for broadcast.
    •Subtitle the show for the hearing impaired (an external company handles this).
    •Have the show classified. One of the devilish aspects of the show that viewers love is the way the show pushes boundaries with violence and nudity. Often its content falls into the R classification. Under Federal legislation Foxtel would be in breach of its licence if it showed R material, so this show cannot be broadcast until it has been classified.
    •Send the files to Foxtel for ingestion into their broadcast server.I’m informed by Programming at Showcase that this process takes up to three days, particularly if a file turns out to be corrupt and a resend is required.

    I covered this subject in June for the Televised Revolution website…the full article is here: http://televisedrevolution.com.....-a-system/

    Ultimately, HBO need to look at the great work being done by distributors like Fox International Channels who have been very proactive about getting their shows on the air quickly in international markets.

  75. Fred
    7 Aug 12
    11:05 am

  76. It’s fine to say that people should wait, that the world does not owe you Game of Thrones when you want it – but hang on, it’s available right there on my Utorrent, woot! So I don’t have to wait at all, ever.

    THIS is the reality facing content distribution – piracy is rampant, it’s simple, and it’s free, it gives you what you want when you want it…….so people use it.

    What to do? It’s a bit like the drug problem – prohibition or legalisation? Right now it’s prohibition – bills like SOPA etc. Trying to kill piracy stone dead via legal means. I honestly can’t see that happening, ever.

    Legalisation – well not so much,. but killing piracy stone dead by providing a superior product i.e. content provided when the consumers want it for a reasonable fee. Piracy become redundant for all bar the uber cheap bastards.

    I can’t see any other options bar the above 2. Life has changed.

  77. Plod
    7 Aug 12
    11:25 am

  78. Fred – go steal some milk from the 7-Eleven. Same thing.

  79. Fred
    7 Aug 12
    11:39 am

  80. Plod I agree – but it’s happening, like it or not. That’s the point.

    Piracy is here to stay – so how do you beat it?

  81. Plod
    7 Aug 12
    11:48 am

  82. That is the WORST reasoning I’ve ever come across.

  83. Me
    7 Aug 12
    12:16 pm

  84. “Fred – go steal some milk from the 7-Eleven. Same thing.”

    What a shit analogy, no “milk” is ever stolen.

    Here’s the concept in song form to make it easy to understand:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

  85. Plod
    7 Aug 12
    12:51 pm

  86. What is the difference between ‘pirating’ someone’s video or audio creation, and stealing the milk (or bread, or other product) that someone has grown or made. The originator gets ZERO in both cases. Milk does get stolen, but we’re conditioned to think that as it is a physical object it is bad, but as video/audio is non-physical it is OK.

    I wonder how you would feel that if one day, in a blinding flash of inspiration you sit down and write a song and put it up on YouTube. It starts to go viral as it’s good. It’s very good. And some huge record label comes along, re-records it and has a worldwide smash hit with some break-out mega-band. And you get diddly-squat. Would be feel peeved? Ripped-off? Pissed-Off? Angry? Well, by your logic you shouldn’t be because that’s just the way things are now. BS.

  87. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    7 Aug 12
    1:17 pm

  88. @johngrono

    Can’t talk. Need thinking time to invent some creative rationalisations for what is theft.

  89. Me
    7 Aug 12
    2:27 pm

  90. @plod

    Very conversant with my writing going viral.

    Friend got back from Indonesia the other day and mentioned one popular article was being taught in a politics class.

    Did I promptly shout, “Where’s my fucking cut?” No. I said, “That’s awesome.” Because I do it for the love of sharing ideas and the money is a bonus.

    Artists aren’t the ones getting pissed off. It’s the parasites that leach of us who are screaming blue murder. I’ll have my first novel completed soon. Promobay is looking very, very attractive indeed.

  91. Mark Davie
    7 Aug 12
    4:17 pm

  92. Although I don’t advocate piracy it also frustrates me how the consumer is held to ransom whenever distributors can.

    For example XBox games, almost no piracy, so you pay $120 each. Or Windows 7 at first release selling for twice as much in Australia because of increased advertising costs and market differences. The only difference is people are willing to pay more here!

  93. Plod
    7 Aug 12
    5:34 pm

  94. Congratulations me. I am very impressed. I also admire your dedication to writing a novel. One up on me dear boy.

    The thing admire is that it was your CHOICE to write the novel. You decided to give of your time and put your thoughts down. Commendable. Laudable.

    But what if you were asked to ghost-write for someone else and that book became a best-seller, and you weren’t to be paid ane red cent. Would you still do it? My point is, with regard to the creation of broadcast quality content it can NOT be done by a single person at a commercial quality and quantity of output, whereas the major of books are written solus or co-written (with some friends etc proofing). These are massively different scenarios.

    Once again, I applaud and commend you for writing a novel.

  95. John Grono
    7 Aug 12
    5:39 pm

  96. Mark Davie – you have hit the nail on the head. The commercisl distribution and rights deals simply don’t cut it – which has the effect of encouraging many people to pirate a copy.

    Mind you the things I see trending on the torrent sites tend to be new releases.

    What if the model was completely flipped on its head. Instead of the ‘big money’ being TV or cinematic release (they pay more and they get it exclusively and first) the ‘big money’ is on torrent downloads first (say, maybe $10), then streams (say, maybe $3 for 7 days), then cinema/TV, then rental/DVD purchase.

    Would piraters pay to be first? Ideas anyone?

  97. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    7 Aug 12
    6:15 pm

  98. @John Grono

    Cut and paste from another comment I made to one of Tims linkbait social media guys…

    “The fact is torrents are a great technology and an excellent distribution platform. But it’s not a business model. It’s a website that sells some banner ads.
    Now if you had been a tad less patronising and said, “The future of television is peer to peer distributed content with fans directly funding artists they respect. Imagine taking the kickstarter model and allowing (say) Quentin Tarantino to reach out on kickstarter and say “If 5M people pledge $20 for the movie you will get free tickets to the opening and a copy of the script.”. That way everyone would win. Content would be funded up front and fans would get what they want. You caould apply the same scalable logic to collingwood supporters or V8 fanatics.”

    Would have respected that.”

  99. John Grono
    7 Aug 12
    6:47 pm

  100. Apologies I didn’t see that AB&GR’sLC.

    I can see that model working for Quentin Tarantino and a few others – but not many. And why wouldn’t he go straight to Universal, pitch it to them, get the $100m in one hit rather than 5 million $20 Paypal transactions. (Not to mention that there is often a chasm between stated intention and action – i.e. coughing up).

    Of course the upside would be that he would own 100% of the rights – nice. The downside is that he would still need to fork out for 5 million admission tickets.

    I’ll keep mulling it over.

  101. Jackie
    7 Aug 12
    6:58 pm

  102. Wow what a first world problem….I pay for my subscription TV so I’m quite happy to watch Game of Thrones on the TV a week later….I manage to avoid all spoilers even though I am an avid twitter/internet user. I used to download when shows were a year behind or not released for ages but I find if you download it all NOW NOW NOW then you have nothing to watch later.

    Life goes past fast enough as it is….have patience grasshoppers. Honestly is all this THAT big a deal? I am still buying the DVD’s even though I watched all the episodes…doing the same for The Walking Dead and Dexter. I support the industry that way.

  103. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    8 Aug 12
    11:21 am

  104. @ John Grono

    Yes, it’s not an ideal solution. But it is the only feasable one I have thought of so far.

    The benefit of a kickstarter model is that the money is paid up front. If the target amount isn’t reached, everyone gets their money back. If the target amount is reached then production goes ahead. It’s actually safe for everyone involved.

    Obviously this will only work for people (or brands) with a name for themselves. But how quickly they can raise money is actually a good way of measuring the stickiness of their brands.

    Take Game Of Thrones. If you moved that to a kickstarter model it would be far more profitable than it currently exists. Easy peasy. The bit that people don’t seem to realise is from HBO’s standpoint they use the success of Game Of Thrones to subsidise their less popular series such as Hell On Wheels. In essence a kickstarter model would promote lavish productions from big names and punish those with more niche audiences.

    It’s either that, or make it available in the itunes store for a very small amount, an amount so small that it’s just not worth torrenting.

  105. John Grono
    8 Aug 12
    12:15 pm

  106. AB, while I am in favour of kickstarter models, we have to recognise that there is a big difference between ‘pledges’ and ‘cash up front’. Production crew won’t work for pledge-money. Ask any charity and they will tell you that the amunts collected are less.

    Second, you still end up with ‘the debt’ on your books. You still have to organise and pay for those 5m cinema tickets, so Quentin is still $50m in the red with the first $50m of (global) box office already accounted for.

    The iTunes drip-feed at a low price point is an EXCELLENT source of revenue – after the fact. Someone still has to cashflow the difference.

    As an example, take a recent local TV co-production that I am aware of. I won’t quote real expenses but the idea will be the same. Total cost for 26 x 30′ was (say) $10m. That was 70% local productiomn 30% overseas production. 70% of the budget was local – $7m – with around100 people employed for the best part of half a year. This was funded (primarily) by (i) the local FTA broadcaster (ii) the local STV broadcaster (iii) by putting the 20% producers rebate in as equity. That is the FTA broadcaster and STV broadcaster put their collective 80% in upfront, while the producer had to fund the 20% rebate (i.e. bridge over $1m). For this the broadcasters get to keep their ad revenue and various other rights and sales (e.g. download). The producer eventually gets the rebate at the end of the financial year and any share of the ancilliary rights (e.g. downloads).

    This is a tough business model, with lots of associated risk and cost under-writing. Relying on post-release revenue streams would make this too risky for any producer to undertake – it would only take one slip and your house is gone.

    There has to be a better model – or recognise that pirating is putting a big hole in the very people that produce and pay for the content, and put your hand in your pocket and pay (which of course means re-writing the release date contracts).

  107. Jim
    8 Aug 12
    4:31 pm

  108. I watched the whole first series as a pirate copy. I don’t really like the genre… although after watching it I thought it was brilliant. I would subscribe and pay to any platform that was going to deliver real time broadcast as it is released…of course the morons who run distribution will never allow this to happen and Australians will be forced to wait…so fuck it…I’ll download as much pirate stuff as I can. But…I will also buy the DVD box set when I come across it. There’s a lesson there for all Producers and Distributors…of course you’ll pay no attention to it.

  109. Kate
    8 Aug 12
    11:54 pm

  110. I was overseas when it started screening, but was paying for and downloading individual episodes from iTunes when I returned. A friend told me there were being released a few days after being aired – not sure what the lag was between original airing, Australian airing, and availability to buy individual episodes, but I found Game of Thrones (at least the latest season) was the quickest and easiest I’ve managed to purchase a show in Australia.

  111. Doris
    16 Aug 12
    10:20 pm

  112. The same thing is happening around HBOs Girls right now. Everyone I know has watched it but no one has watched it on tv.

  113. Jay
    17 Aug 12
    3:26 pm

  114. from the few comments i’ve read all i’ll say is…..I live in Australia and that’s why i haven’t watched TV for years…..i get things the day they come out in the US with no ads or interruptions and without having to pay ridiculous costs for cable/foxtel. Some of the series that come out here have been out for years before they make it to our shore and since discovering torrenting i have gotten to watch some amazing TV shows that in some instances never make it here or if they do i’m already many episodes in front if not seasons lol I would have to agree if there was a reasonably priced service like torrents i’d happily pay but till that day it’s cheaper, easier and quicker to get things the sneaky way lol

  115. iain
    22 Aug 12
    7:15 pm

  116. Hey all, looks like a thrilling discussion and a great deal more stimulating than: http://mumbrella.com.au/scumbag-theft-111079

    If anyone is genuinely interested in paying HBO to help them keep making AMAZING television, then lobby them to let us do it http://takemymoneyhbo.com/

    tl;dr i like your talking; tell HBO you want to give them money

  117. David O'Brien
    24 Aug 12
    1:38 pm

  118. Its crazy that the communication companies can’t work out a way to make instant programming work. They could kill ninety percent of pirating and illegal downloading almost overnight if they could simply find a way for us to pay for a programme the moment it becomes publicly available. Sure! There’s a few too many viewers out there who will always want something for nothing. I’m only too happy to pay for quality in a world filled with shit. I was watching the big speech from The Newsroom around six to eight weeks ago, it was almost fresh from Aaron Sorkin’s pen before it landed on YouTube. But when I went searching for The Newsroom (and I’m a Fox platinum subscriber) it was pretty clear they hadn’t heard of the programme. Treat Australia like a backwater for the best and latest of HBO and other big production companies and we’ll subvert it like sneak thieves.

  119. Nick Peters
    28 Aug 12
    11:26 am

  120. re: my comment (#2) from 6 August. ABC just announced that they will have the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who on iView immediately after it airs in the UK.

    From their Facebook page “ABC TV is thrilled to announce that in true time-lord style, the first episode of season seven of Doctor Who – Asylum of the Daleks – will now premiere on iview Sunday September 2 from 5.10am EST immediately after its UK launch on September 1.”

    I commend the ABC for this move. Be interesting to find out how easy/difficult it was for them to negotiate the rights to stream this so quickly after the initial UK broadcast.

  121. joey
    28 Aug 12
    5:57 pm

  122. Producers et al, need to realize that in this day and age you have to deliver, particularly success material, faster and faster, you cant wait weeks.

    There is a simple analogy, that being Crack Addicts.

    They wont wait for you to get their next fix, no matter how good your product is, they’ll hit the streets to get their fix.

    And you can read the above posts and see people’s position is clearly the same as an long term Crack users.

    Producers et all have to realize they’re just the pushers, who are feeding the habit, and someone is always looking to take over the territory.

    What the world needs is more methadone :)

  123. John Grono
    29 Aug 12
    7:01 am

  124. Well you’ve nailed it with that logic haven’t you Joey. The problem lies completely with the people who create popular TV programmes who clearly should make and distribute them for free out of the goodness of their heart, and pay no wages to those that dream-up, write, act, shoot, record, and edit them.

  125. Jiminy
    29 Aug 12
    2:00 pm

  126. To the guy using the “you wouldn’t steal a bottle of milk analogy”:

    I can pick up a bottle of milk on the way home from work. At the same time as someone in America can. In fact I can buy milk from all sorts of places whenever I want it. Why would I steal it? It’s readily available and cheap.

    Where can I buy Game of Thrones from? I can’t. I can download it for free though.

    Imagine if milk was a very rare sought after product. You couldn’t get the stuff anywhere no matter where you looked. It’s not hard to make, it’s just that one company has a monopoly over the milk product and refuses to make it available.

    There is a guy who delivers it to your house whenever you like for free though. There is a small catch though… It’s illegal.

  127. Plod
    29 Aug 12
    5:12 pm

  128. And the Mona Lisa is very rare – go steal it Jiminy. Theft is theft. The fact you can’t have it the micro-second you want it is childlike.

  129. jean cave
    4 Sep 12
    6:11 am

  130. I am a late-comer to The Game of Thrones and I am enjoying it behindwise but I need to say without all the Brit-actors it would just be nothing.