Jon Snow will die unless you start legally watching Game of Thrones… so we’ve provided a helpful guide for streaming, whatever country you’re in.
Piracy may be a big part of the Ironborn way of life, but here at Red Points we always pay our debts. Game of Thrones frequently tops the list for most-pirated TV show, and season 7 has so far been no exception, with the premiere pirated over 90 million times. We all know that the piracy site is dark and full of terrors, so why is illegally watching Game of Thrones so popular?
A lot of it may have to do with availability. GoT fans have repeatedly complained that they can only access the show through expensive cable TV subscriptions. Many pirates expressed frustration at the lack of an on-demand subscription service in their country, with one Canadian fan telling CBC that “100 per cent would pay to watch Game of Thrones” if US streaming service HBO Now were available.
Lack of penalty is also an issue. HBO attempted to fight against piracy this year, but as it turned out their idea of waking the dragon was to send a polite notice to ISPs listing the IP addresses of illegal torrenters. Warning notices, even those sent directly out to pirates, have historically proved ineffective; the Six Strikes anti-piracy initiative failed in the US because without a threat of consequences or website takedowns, pirates continue to pirate.
And it really doesn’t help when legal streaming services crash and are unreliable - some UK viewers found themselves watching a football hooligan film instead of the GoT premiere, and down under Foxtel’s on-demand experienced technical issues throughout the stream.
Which country do you live in?
Lucky USA fans have many options for watching Game of Thrones legally. HBO Now is an on-demand streaming service that you don’t need a cable subscription for, and it costs $14.99 per month or just $9.99 for students. Otherwise Sling TV, Hulu and Amazon Prime all have $15 HBO add-ons, and all support desktop, internet-connected gaming consoles, most mobile devices, smart TVs and streaming sticks/boxes. Playstation VUE, too, is a good option for $15: you don’t need a playstation and you can stream on up to 5 devices simultaneously.
In response to high levels of piracy in Aus, Foxtel launched on-demand service Foxtel Now and have recently lowered the price to just $15 per month. Foxtel Now is supported by PCs and Macs, mobile devices, Google Chromecast, Telstra TV as well as various smart TVs and games consoles.
In the UK HBO is available through a Sky subscription, and on non-subscription Sky Q which costs £32 per month and supports live streaming. UK fans also have a cheap option in Now TV, where the Entertainment channel provides Game of Thrones on-demand and live for just £7.99 per month on its streaming box or online.
HBO España is an on-demand subscription service and costs €7.99 per month. There’s also a month-long free trial, which will now cover the whole of Season 7 as it’s only *sob* seven episodes long.
Owned by phone network Orange, €9.99-a-month OCS broadcasts American TV to France a few days after US release, in original sound with added French subtitles.
Sweden, Denmark, Finland
In 2012 HBO launched experimental HBO Nordic, a predecessor to the US HBO Now. No cable subscription is required, and it costs 89 SEK per month.
24 hours after Game of Thrones goes live in the US, it is available to watch with a Ziggo Movies & Series XL package on on-demand TV or online/mobile with Ziggo GO. The package is part of a wider Ziggo Connect & Play Max subscription, but also svailable separately for €11.95 per month. However, Ziggo services are only available for VodafoneZiggo customers, and whilst VodafoneZiggo is available for the majority of the population, there are areas not covered by the network.
In India, Game of Thrones is available through Hotstar just minutes after the US airing. The service costs 199 ₹ per month.
Canada, or any other country
Okay, just kidding (kind of). From any country, it’s possible to download US iTunes, and by funding the account in your currency with iTunes gift cards, signing up to HBO Now via iTunes for US $14.99 a month. Many people alternatively choose to use a VPN service, which changes your IP address to that of a different country so you can circumvent restrictions for streaming services. The legalities of using VPNs, especially for geoblocking, vary between countries, so it’s best to look up the law first.
So by now you should be free to smugly tell your friends that you support Game of Thrones by watching the show legally. Winter is coming for original content creators, as pirating is now a socially-acceptable norm in younger generations. Digital Piracy is changing, too: as authorities clamp down on torrents, pirates turn to streaming which is less traceable and can fall into legally grey(joy) areas as indexing sites refuse liability. Game of Thrones was no exception, with a staggering 85% of pirates illegally streaming the premiere. It’s time for audiences and rights-owners alike to fight back, but what can be done? Whatever the IP protection process, first a shift in expectations is needed, and this will be furthered by ensuring of sufficient legal access - so that pirates, much like Bran Stark, won’t have a leg to stand on.