Just weeks after the finale of “True Detective” caused HBO Go to crash and burn, the Season 4 opener of “Game of Thrones” has caused a similar HBO Go overload. Here’s what you need to know.
UPDATE: HBO has tweeted: “The service has returned to several platforms and we’re working hard towards full recovery, which we expect soon.”
1. ‘Game of Thrones’ HBO Go Outage Affecting Many Users
— Britton (@BiggieBGreen) April 7, 2014
The precise number of people affected by the HBO Go outage in the wake of the “Game of Thrones” Season 4 premiere is unknown. Variety states that “many” people were affected. Based on the numbers from the “True Detective” HBO Go outage, it is likely that millions of HBO subscribers were out of luck when they tried to watch “Game of Thrones” online after the TV broadcast.
Variety adds, “Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes pledged at an investor conference to invest more into HBO Go in order to keep these kind of malfunctions from happening again.”
2. HBO Might Want HBO Go to Have Outages
new rule: only share your hbo go password with one friend. STOP THE CRASHES
— Stephen Bain (@stephenbain) April 7, 2014
While some blame high demand for this latest HBO outage, others have posited that HBO intentionally lets the HBO Go system get overwhelmed in order to boost public awareness of their shows, or as a marketing technique to get people to sign up for HBO service of their own.
When “True Detective” caused a similar issue with HBO, TIME wrote that “some observers speculated the problem might be an attempt by HBO to clamp down on subscribers sharing their usernames and passwords with non-paying users.”
Forbes recently noted that the habit of sharing HBO Go passwords is technically illegal.
“‘[I]f someone is violating Netflix or HBO Go’s TOS to stream they are guilty of a misdemeanor…right off the bat,’ says Hanni Fakhoury of the EFF. And if the worth of the stolen information or damage caused in its procurement reaches $5,000 (that’s a lot of HBO episodes!), it could be a felony with multiple potential years of prison time.”
That being said, The Verge recently noted that HBO CEO Richard Plepler doesn’t mind when people share HBO Go passwords, as it gives non-subscribers a chance to get addicted to HBO’s line of premium content.
3. HBO Is Aware of the Issue with HBO Go
Looks like there's trouble in the realm. Apologies for the inconvenience. We'll be providing updates, so please stay tuned. #GameofThrones
— HBO GO (@HBOGO) April 7, 2014
HBO is aware of the issue, and is working on a fix. It appears that they plan to be more active on social media during this outage than they were during the “True Detective” outage, so follow HBO’s Twitter or Facebook for up-to-date info.
4. Many Fans and Tech Insiders Expected This HBO GO Outage
I asked HBO this week whether HBO Go was prepared for Game of Thrones streaming onslaught tonight. Heard nothing back. Am scared #pray4HBOGo
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) April 6, 2014
Many fans of the show, as well as tech reporters, all expected HBO Go to struggle to meet the demand of the “Game of Thrones” Season 4 premiere. It is not clear what, if any, measures HBO will be taking in the coming weeks to “beef up” the HBO Go system to prepare for the Season 4 finale.
As we explained in our article about the “True Detective” HBO Go outage, there are many reasons for a streaming video server to become unresponsive. Additionally, it is worth noting that HBO Go’s streaming service is actually handled by cable companies like Time Warner and Optimum.
5. Season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’ a ‘Gamechanger’ for HBO
at this point HBO GO has become an elaborate long con to get cable subscriptions out of password sharers
— alec pesola (@alecpesola) April 7, 2014
The Motley Fool notes that the success of “Game of Thrones” Season 4 could be pivotal for HBO. The Fool writes:
“Game of Thrones season 4 can be a catalyst — a property that can change HBO’s business even more than last year, when a 28% bump in viewership for Game of Thrones helped boost revenue 4.4% and operating income 8.5%…
The takeaway for investors, Tim says, is that Game of Thrones season 4 should embolden Time Warner executives to try new ways to get HBO — and HBO properties — into the homes and devices of viewers who don’t pay for a full cable subscription.”
That being said, “Game of Thrones” won’t have the desired impact if not enough people can watch it through official channels like HBO Go.
Piracy info for the Season 4 premiere isn’t out yet, but the Season 3 finale of “Game of Thrones” set a piracy record: 1 million downloads in 24 hours. It remains to be seen if the HBO Go outage related to the Season 4 premiere will help to set an even higher record for online piracy. According to Comicbook.com, “Game of Thrones” is the most-pirated TV show on the planet.
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