HBO's sending an email out to people it suspects are secretly Australians who have subscribed to their service using sneaky, underhanded methods of giving them money and attention. Or so says SMH.
On Thursday I'd finally decided to just subscribe to HBO Now. The price isn't great considering I really only want it for Game of Thrones, but the option is available to me with minimal fuss and I'd much prefer paying than pirating. The only alternatives in Australia being Foxtel (urgh!) or pirating it.
Obviously piracy is free and easy once you know how, but recent legislation passed through Parliament might see the risk involved rise too high. (Read more on ABC.) Plus, well, it's immoral. And stuff.
So it's down to the notorious exorbitancy of a Foxtel subscription, or edging around HBO's geo-locking.
Let's do the Math of Thrones!
Foxtel math is pretty straightforward. You could sign up for a full service and pay a couple of hundred dollars over the course of a year long contract (nope!) or you could get Foxtel Play, their online streaming service, for a much more reasonable fee.
The minimum price for Foxtel Play with the additional package to get Game of Thrones is $30 per month for the first three months, then $45 a month thereafter. You get a free two week trial if you are a new customer and adding two months will get you to the end of the current Game of Thrones season, though just barely, if you time it right.
Total minimum cost for Game of Thrones via Foxtel Play for new customers: $60 Australian.
If you're not a new customer, you need three months, bringing the total to $90 Australian.
HBO Now math is a little more complicated. Before you can even subscribe to it you need a service that allows you to appear to be in another country. I use UnblockUs because it's ridiculously easy to set up and doesn't interfere with other internet traffic, but there are many similar services. At $4.99 a month it's a good investment on its own as it will also unblock things like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and Netflix - including letting you swap Netflix regions, if you're subscribed.
After that's set up you also need a US iTunes account (free) and a method to fund that iTunes account. Most commonly this is a US iTunes gift card, but prepaid credit cards are also an option.
Now you have access to the (much richer) US iTunes library you may want to buy other things too, but you will need at least $14.99 to start your HBO Now subscription. With HBO Now you get the first month free, meaning you will need to pay for at least two months in total to bring your coverage to three altogether - Game of Thrones is 10 episodes long.
UnblockUs for 3 months ($4.99 x 3) plus HBO Now for 2 months ($14.99 x 2) comes to $44.95 US.
Total cost for Game of Thrones via UnblockUs and HBO Now: $57.76 Australian right now, courtesy of XE's currency convertor.
The Australian dollar has been falling a bit of late, but it's still cheaper even for new Foxtel customers to go the HBO Now route. If you're an existing or previous Foxtel customer then HBO is by far the cheaper option.
Obviously this is not practical for everyone, but it's not terribly difficult and the content you get for the money is far and above that of the Foxtel offering.
If HBO really does cut Australians off when they've actually been paying, well... why wouldn't I just pirate it? I did try to pay you. Apparently my money's only good if it filters through Foxtel's hands first? Get bent.