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Take my money, HBO (takemymoneyhbo.com)
425 points by krogsgard on June 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 306 comments

I just don't understand what some people are thinking when it comes to this issue. In my mind, HBO is offering people two options:

1) Premium price, instant gratification. If you're willing to pony up for cable TV + a HBO subscription, you're able to watch Game of Thrones the instant it comes out. Yes, you're paying a lot (~$100) - but - sometimes that's the price you have to pay for a premium service.

2) Pay a reasonable price, get it digitally, but I have to wait. If the $100/month subscription is a problem for you - no problem! You just have to wait. You can legally gain access to Game of Thrones on iTunes or BluRay for ~$40 for the whole season... about 10 months after it finishes airing.

When I hear someone say, "Why can't I just pay HBO directly for access? They're dumb! I'll just pirate it instead." - What they really mean is, "HBO charges too much for my tastes, and I don't want to wait... so I'll just download it." If that's your mentality, fine... but please don't think you're doing it for some higher reasoning. You just want the show now, and you don't want to pay what HBO is selling it. In every other medium (physical goods, food, dinner, cars) - you'd be SOL. But.. just because it's digital, you can copy it for free.

You're correct. HBO is offering people two options.

However, there seems to be a significant amount of people who want a third option, which HBO considers itself structurally prohibited from providing.

It is precisely no one's fault but HBO's that HBO has painted itself into a corner.

You're exactly right - there is a vocal set of people that want a third option. My point is, however, no business has to offer the "third option". Just because they don't offer the third option doesn't make downloading them for free OK.

Why not?

To assure you I'm not trolling... read this first: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114391-Valves-Gabe...

I've read the article - and I completely agree with Gabe. From a business point of view - you (and Gabe) are probably right. It might be absolutely, completely stupid of HBO to not offer GoT online, 24/7, for a reasonable price.

However, just because they may (or may not) be making a poor business decision, it doesn't excuse what people are doing: illegally pirating content.

>However, just because they may (or may not) be making a poor business decision, it doesn't excuse what people are doing: illegally pirating content.

Look at it from the other direction. Pirates are gonna pirate and there is fuck all anyone can do about it. Moralize about it all you want, it doesn't change the fact that people will get the content for free, and MORE people will get the content for free if they feel ripped off or cheated (regardless of how legitimate those feelings might be)

HBO can make a relatively simple change to capture a good deal of that market, or leave money on the table. Currently they're pursuing option #2 due to poor positioning.

They can't make a relatively simple change and capture that market (read the dcurtis article linked above).

I just read that. Interesting. One quote stood out at me though:

>Our content, exclusive. It's the only place you can get it. And we believe there is value in exclusivity.

You say value, others say needless and overpriced hurdles. And there's nothing exclusive about the average torrent site :)

What they're really trying to say is that their's value in scarcity. Unfortunately there is, in reality, very little scarcity thanks to the Internet.

I think people want to watch it sooner because they want to be able to discuss it in the present tense with all their friends in real life and on forums like reddit who all pirate it.

Also , if you watch something 10 months later you're going to have to find a way to navigate the internet for 10 months without tripping over spoilers everywhere.

Buying it via cable, assuming there aren't other shows you want to watch on cable , you are looking at $25 per episode.

This was a good write-up of an interview with the HBO co-CEO: http://dcurt.is/hbo-forbes-journalism

Worth reading before spouting the typical "I don't understand why HBO doesn't want my $5 a month."

Very good blog post. Not sure I'd watch the full video interview, but it was worth the time to read.

What I took away from it is this: A lot of our paying subscribers don't actually watch HBO, and we don't want to compete against the sources that deliver those subscribers to us.

(Every single discussion about this should always include a mention that Time Warner owns HBO, saves a lot of mental hamster wheeling.)


They forced a bad deal on competing networks via those networks' own customers. The prize was capturing margin and exporting cost of business.

The language about controlling the examples that consumers use as a frame of reference is telling. This is a business that has mastered the game of baiting 1st parties against 2nd parties while negotiating price as a 3rd party.

Also, every single discussion about Time Warner should always mention that Time Warner does not own Time Warner Cable.

That one passed over me. Time Warner spun off Time Warner Cable in 2009. Someone knew what was coming, HBO has a better shot than I thought. HBO Go was fantastic when I used it last year, when I still had Uverse.

The interesting thing is that this seems to imply that HBO makes most of its revenue from people who don't use their product. This in turn implies some economic actors here are not acting rationally (for example, there are a significant number of subscribers who are willing to pay more for cable bundles containing HBO, but then don't actually watch HBO).

I actually do watch HBO, but I can see exactly how this works (and how I got sucked into the super-premium package). You sign up for the standard internet+tv bundle, for say $60. Then you get HD for an extra $10 or $15, then the DVR is only an extra $5 a month on top of that, and then they ask you about HBO. And you think, "I've seen some good shows on HBO, that's worth the additional small percentage of my cable bill (now up to $80/month)".

And then you don't watch HBO (or at least not as often as warrants the money you spent on it). It's like all those 'options' you get when buying a car (Only $200 for floormats? that sounds like a deal!). I think it's called the bundling effect or something similar.

You wouldn't think that the availability of HBO online for say $10/month would change that dynamic much, particularly if the additional cost on your cable bill to get HBO is less than that.

I would guess it's largely the same as a person who buys a premium gym membership but never uses it.

I would guess there's a lot of businesses that make money by charging people for things that they don't use.

Case in point , services that allow you to subscribe online but can only be canceled by telephone. Making a telephone call is not exactly difficult , but there must be a significant quantity of people who can't be bothered to do it in order to make it worth their while implementing that policy to begin with.

I see his argument.. but why not just partner with ISPs? If HBO doesn't want my $8 directly, then why not let AT&T (or whoever) charge me an extra $8/mo along with my DSL (or whatever) bill and get HBOGO? It would be nearly identical to their current model, but with different types of subscriber organizations distributing their content for them.

Because this is an act of war against other carries that currently carry HBO. Those carriers can drop HBO and cause revenue to drop much faster than broadband-only HBOGO subscribers will bring in new revenue. It's trading an existing, stable, proven revenue source for one that is none of the above at scale.

Edit: This is a summary of one of HBO's arguments. The dcurtis post examines a couple of other arguments. Positioning is an interesting one: How does HBO convince viewers that $5/mo is reasonable for just a few shows when Netflix is $8/mo for far more content? There are some really tough issues here.

I'll wait and see how Netflix does on producing original content; HBO seems really good at it. Over the years they've shot some amazing shows and the product speaks for itself. Even though I am a current Netflix subscriber I would still easily add HBOGO to my monthly bills for premium access to their content.

Also.. their largest carriers also serve a lot of cable internet, for most it wouldn't be adding a competition so much as adding another way to get at subscribers money. I'm not so sure they would be in a huge rush to drop them.

>> their largest carriers also serve a lot of cable internet, for most it wouldn't be adding a competition so much as adding another way to get at subscribers money.

The status quo is that the typical HBO sub has a cable bill over $150/mo, because he already has broadband. Helping that subscriber cut the cord and go Internet-only (while unbundling HBO) will therefore result in a lower cable bill for the subscriber. A portion of the money the subscriber saves comes out of the carrier's pocket. This is the classic trading of analog dollars for digital pennies, and carriers will resist it as long as they are able (in the absence of a new big revenue source).

Regarding positioning: HBO is very good at producing content, but so are a lot of the organizations that provide content to Netflix (e.g. CBS, NBC, TNT, Showtime, Disney, etc.) $8 gets you access to all of those vs. a hypothetical $5 to get the output of a single studio. It's going to be very hard for HBO to hold the line on pricing in that environment.

They would not be able to drop HBO. It's too valuable to their customers

They don't have to drop HBO, they just have to stop advertising it. A large fraction of cable ads I see have the not-so-subtle message of: "BUY HBO! IF YOU DONT HAVE HBO THAN YOU ARE MISSING OUT AND YOUR FRIENDS WILL THINK YOU ARE UNCOOL"

How much revenue does HBO get from that marketing?

These media maneuverings is truly a game of thrones.

That's an interesting point. Maybe those ISPs who are also cable TV providers could bundle HBO with their high-tier Internet offerings instead of TV channel packages. In this case, one shouldn't petition HBO but the likes of Comcast, Time Warner (HBO's parent) and Verizon.

ESPN does exactly this with ESPN3.

Thanks, most commenters here have dogmatically refused to see HBO's perspective.

Wow, I hadn't read that; such a great post. Thank you.

"We pirate Game of Thrones, we use our friend's HBOGO login to watch True Blood…"

Yeah I am not associating myself with that. Perhaps something like "We don't currently pay to see your content".

Honestly as an Australian I don't see this happening here, the cable here is an effective monopoly and unless they get a cut of the profits they're not going let HBO do this. It might be completely against their business model as well due to the fact GoT has received more publicity here than any other cable show in some time. This has likely been driving sales for them and so would be bad for their business.

Interestingly GoT seasons 1 and 2 are available on iTunes in Australia. The latest episodes only take an extra week to show up from when they're first screened in the US. Even so, Australians apparently pirate the show in greater numbers than elsewhere.

Could be because it's $3/episode or it's only standard def or it's a week late. My guess is people find it just as easy to torrent it so don't even bother to look at paid options.

So if Australia is being used by HBO as a test market (quite common for US companies in the past), the stats on offering a paid online option in parallel to cable to reduce piracy don't look compelling to me in this case.

GoT is absolutely huge in Australia - I am continually surprised at the people I know who are well outside the target demographic and watch it. Monday is Game of Thrones night, where everyone watches it, and then talks about it with their mates, which seems to be a significant part of the experience (I'm not a fan of the show personally).

A week later is one week too late - you need to be looking at hours after screening. Australia has a huge pirated TV culture because of how awful our free to air is (pay TV is only really starting to catch on due to exclusive sports licenses, and in terms of getting US content it is almost as terrible as free to air), and everyone just torrents what they want to watch.

Guess we'll find out next week if it's the screening time because season 2 just finished. So from next Monday will there be a drop in Australian GoT torrents because the show is equally available on iTunes? It'd be interesting to see the stats.

The other thing is that on iiNet (Australia's #2 ISP), iTunes downloads aren't counted against download quota. So there's some incentive to buy for people on the basic plans.

iTunes only has SD though right?

It's the late part. See an example in the gaming industry here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114391-Valves-Gabe...

Can somebody confirm if GoT Season 2 is available in Australia iTunes? US will not get Season 2 until the disc release next year.

If you were really determined to buy it outside Aus I suppose you could buy an iTunes gift card from here and then login to iTunes via an Aussie proxy. Happens surprisingly often in the other direction.

You really would be paying the 'gold price' too as the $AUD is pretty strong due to the price of gold and other commodities mined here.

Season 2 is available up to episode 9 as a season pass for AUD28.99

It's an attention grabber, sheesh.

No it says "I think I'm entitled to your content and so I'm going to probably be a shitty customer"

No, it says "everyone is finding a way to watch it whether it is on HBO or by pirating, so why don't you figure out how to enable everyone to watch it without infringing on copyright and make some money in the process?"

So you're anti-entitlement to very easily copyable things? Why?

To assure you I'm not trolling... take a look at this discussion before replying: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114391-Valves-Gabe...

That really isn't a discussion. It is one CEO explaining their decision to make their products available online. Kessler has a different idea of how HBO is going to position themselves online. Why is Newell's opinion on his business model any more valid than Kessler's?

I never understood this thing about "easily copy-able" being a reason to strip a business of their distribution rights. Yes, the actual string of 1's and 0's is easy to copy. But physically making a 60 minute episode of Game of Thrones is not so easy. I think the work they have put into making their product has earned them the right to control the distribution of their product just as much as any other business. If you don't like the way HBO distributes Game of Thrones... you don't go pirate it... you go film it yourself (although I suspect that would not be allowed either).

I think right now, HBO makes more money from selling to the cable companies than they could selling directly to people. The cable companies are very good customers of them, and I think that HBO as a company is better off not taking the money of people that feel entitled to their content.

HBO Go puts the technical infrastructure in place to eliminate the cable companies as customers if this ever changes, so they have some chance of surviving the likely collapse of the cable industry

Australian bandwidth is atrociously expensive too.

Unlimited for $60 isn't too bad (including line rental)

From which ISP?

The quality fluctuates wildly. If its $60 unlimited from a good ISP like iinet then it's a good deal, if it's with TPG or Dodo then it's not worth the hassle.

I'm not talking about residential lines. I'm talking about servers.

Right you are! I've had both colo in the US a number of years ago and current colo here in Australia. Couldn't agree more. Do you think that's due to the cost of "shipment" or just greedy men in the middle?

I have no idea. Haven't bothered to look into it.

Yeah I am not associating myself with that.

The piracy angle, or those particular programmes?

Piracy of course.

Just checking. (sorry, was just the first thought that entered my head and it made me giggle)

It's not pirating if you download Game of Thrones -- it's paying The Iron Price

I'm willing to pay the Gold Price but I don't want to wait several months until they decide to air it in my local country.

> until they decide to air it in my local country.

Dubbed, too.

^^^clearly a lannister!

It's ironic that the amount in the form is in US dollars.

In much the rest of the world, it's already pretty much game over. A whole generation has learned to "pirate" these shows because it's the only available option.

This is the reality in 2012 outside the US: ordinary people in offices and on schoolyards are discussing TV shows that aren't legally available in those countries. It's not considered anything special anymore, it's no longer just a small "secret" club of geeks. It has become so common it's hard to imagine "legal" services will ever get a foot in the door after over a decade of neglecting these markets.

Pirating these shows in the US often leads to nasty threatening letters from the content owners, and that's the best case scenario. You learn pretty fast not to do that again. Maybe I'm just an awful pirate.

I have been willing to pay HBO anywhere between 10 and 30 a month for years to get access to all of their content on demand on the web. Really glad someone took the initiative to let them know about it. Not that it will necessarily do anything, but at least the customer desires will be very visible.

Where is this? Where I live, most people don't know English nearly well enough to watch the shows without subtitles, and community created subs are very hit-and-miss, both in availability and quality.

The Netherlands, but I think the same goes for most of Western Europe, especially the Northern half. Which unfortunately for HBO is also the primary potential market outside North America, both in terms of disposable income and the kind of audience that watches their shows.

HBO is actually now starting to enter the local cable market. Great offering: "pay a premium price to see shows your friends talked about 6 months ago at an inconvenient time". I suppose there's still a market for it, just like there's still a market for getting yesterdays news printed on dead trees...

You have to remember that the practice of pirating TV shows started about ten years ago now. That's a whole generation that grew up watching their favorite shows that way. Any time, anywhere, and for free. Try selling those people premium cable subscriptions that offer no practical advantages whatsoever.

Uruguay, Argentina - search for "Cuevana.tv", it was shut down a few times I think, and other services.


My coworkers which aren't especially tech-savyy watch movies from Cuevana and similar sites, many of them get their children to configure it for them :) .

Edit: thenextweb went so far as to call it "the new Napster"


and their owners have been in legal trouble several times


I certainly understand the motivation for this but HBO is actually in a difficult position.

- HBO drives a lot of cable purchase

- Some of that money goes to the cable companies for data carriage

- The cable companies know HBO sells cable

- Any alternative distribution means risks the cable companies losing income

- Cable companies losing income means that HBO risks either being dropped from the cable companies or having to offer them a bigger slice of the pie (since distribution is now non-exclusive)

It is a huge risk for HBO to jeopardize their cable subscriber income with a direct-to-market model.

That being said, I won't pay $100+/month to watch just HBO so do the math on that.

What really annoys me is that this goes so far as affecting, say, iTunes releases. HBO only releases shows on iTunes (if they release it at all) just prior to the next season starting to drum up more interest. That's a trap and I'm not falling for it.

This all goes back to why a la carte cable will never happen (given the current power structure and regulatory environment). It either means people will spend less on cable or things will be more expensive so it won't be worth it. Either way the cable companies lose. Content creators also lose because no one wants to take the risk of losing what is otherwise guaranteed income (a slice of every cable bill).

Years ago, Hollywood went through a shakeup splitting content creation from distribution [1]. It's really time for the same thing to happen with all content industries. We need to separate:

1. Content creation: studios like HBO;

2. Distribution: cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast; and

3. Infrastructure: the actual last mile, cable or fibre infrastructure.

Of course the political likelihood of that happening is essentially zero.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_Pict....

EDIT: to clarify this point, I don't believe cable companies would pursue the nuclear option of dropping HBO. However what the cable companies have now is essentially an exclusive arrangement with HBO. With implied or otherwise, HBO earns a premium for this in terms of how big a cut the companies get. Providing a means to bypass the cable companies would sooner or later result in a higher cut being paid to them, less marketing of HBO by the cable companies to its customers, etc.

Basically there is an economic cost to breaking exclusivity whether it is explicit or not.

I will not buy cable tv. Any information service (tv, voice, whatever) is only interesting to me if it's delivered over internet protocol.

If a lot more people made this decision, there would be no problem here.

But, given that many of the larger ISPs (at least those available to residential customers in my area -- Comcast and Verizon) are owned by companies that also provide cable (and telephone) services, what's to stop them from simply bundling cable service with your internet service and charging a bunch extra? I realize that not everyone has this problem, but in many areas there's almost an "information monopoly" with regards to web service.

That is a problem, I'd agree. In my case at least, those companies provide the option to buy internet without having to buy the other crap.

Also, here's a moble MVNO which does a lot of things right:


Now if only you could easily bring your existing phone onto their service...


I should have said, "delivered over internet protocol such that I could get the service through my choice of internet provider". Decouplable, in other words.

I doubt that cable companies will drop HBO. They are the primary channel that cable companies have in pushing higher priced channel packages and would have to deal with consumer revolt.

This is the annoying thing about the argument, that there's any chance whatsoever that the cable companies would drop HBO. There's zero chance that would happen. Zero.

Here's a question- Cable channel AMC makes Mad Men available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video the day after it airs. As far as I know, no cable systems have dropped AMC as a result. Why not?

The fear isn't cable channels cutting HBO. The issue is consumers cutting their cable subscription. The single biggest danger to HBO is consumers getting rid of cable.

The AMC network owns AMC and a few artsy channels I've never heard of. Time Warner owns HBO, TBS, CW, TheWB, WarnerBrothers, Kids WB, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, CNN, and a little more. I've heard that HBO gets $7 per each of it's 29 million subscribers. The parent company, TimeWarner, gets an even larger number per cable television subscriber.

If TimerWarner could sell it's content ala cart and make more money than they currently do off subscriptions I'm sure they'd do it! They have wisely invested in the creation of HBO Go such that if the day comes where that's a more profitable venture, and there are no contractual roadblocks, they'll flip the switch in an instant.

Just to clarify, Time Warner Cable is no longer related in any way to Time Warner. They've licensed the name since 2009.

This clarification does not change your point, however. A conglomerated cable channel owner benefits from any one of their channels driving access to all of them. If HBO did circumvent the cable operator, they may be hurting their brothers and sisters in the process

Dish Network dropped AMC just a few days ago. Dish says it's because of ratings.

That's because of a wholly unrelated dispute.

How is it unrelated? Dish wants more money for carrying AMC. The same deal could happen here - cable companies could demand more money from HBO than they are willing to pay, exactly what cletus is referring to.

Well, one company alone can't do it, since it will lose customers to others that don't. They may try to all boycott HBO, but I don't see that happening.

> I won't pay $100+/month

I know you were talking about a direct service but this argument affects HBO's current cable delivery model too.

I am a cable cutter. I made the decision two years ago after realising that the only shows I watched through my TWC/Tivo subscription were on HBO. I enjoyed them a lot, just not enough to justify spending $112 a month on the TV portion of the service. Worse, I only really watched HBO originals (the movie selection is slow to rotate and doesn't even begin to compare to Netflix). I'd get perhaps 40 hours a year of viewing from HBO (two originals, at most), which makes the net cost per hour viewed over $30. That's twice the rate of going to the cinema, never mind all the other stuff I could do in front of a TV with my time for far less (like gaming: $50 for 100 hours of Elder Scrolls, anyone?)

I ended up in this situation because I already had instant, on-demand, (mostly) ad-free access to an enormous range of current and classic TV through Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and miscellaneous network websites. I was deriving absolutely no utility from my cable subscription other than HBO. That suddenly made HBO seem inordinately expensive. It was a simple economic decision to ditch Tivo and TWC, buy a Mac Mini and a decent remote and stream everything. My bill went from $180 (including internet and streaming services) to $70 and the hardware paid for itself in under a year. (Were I a sports fan I'd be in a very different position, as no doubt I'd view $112 a month as worth it for access to live sports on ESPN.)

I pirate nothing. I miss out on none of these phantom 'water cooler conversations' people talk about. I learned patience. I have more money. It's been a good decision.

I said this had implications for HBO; I am sure I am not alone in my pre-cutter profile (streaming a fair bit, not watching much cable TV, enjoying some HBO originals) and I'm not the only one who's figured out that HBO-over-cable's cost per hour viewed makes it one of the most expensive forms of entertainment available. I don't believe HBO can compete under their current model in the long term.

What if some great writers from HBO left to join a new "startup" with deep pockets and willing to bet on internet only distribution. And what if they create a big-budget show that's awesome like Game of Thrones. Would you pay for that "channel"?

It's interesting that GoT is relatively low budget for what it is, roughly $60 million a season or thereabouts.

Netflix dropped $100 million for a season of House Of Cards, so it's entirely possible we'll see more of this kind of thing out of them.

And I'm firmly convinced the right people could raise GoT scale budgets through crowdfunding. The right time and talent just have to come along. It'll happen in the next couple of years.

Geez, I didn't realize Netflix spent that much money on that show.

To be fair, I don't know how much is coming from Netflix and how much from the Hollywood company MRC, but $100 million for 26 episodes isn't outrageous.

In that case it's somewhat cheaper than GoT, since their $60 million only pays for 10 episodes.

I dropped cable tv last year, haven't looked back!

I still pay the cable company for my data connection. They will change their business model, the only question is will they survive the changes brought on by new technology. There current business model has very little chance of working in the long term.

why a la carte cable will never happen (given the current power structure and regulatory environment)

Yep, regulation. There was a tiny movement years ago to get the government to force a la carte cable, but lobbying ended that.

Want a la carte cable? Call your senators and representative.

I've always suspected there is no à la carte cable because it is not revenue maximizing.

My argument: with bundled cable you can segment the market by selling the same product at different prices. If I offer a bundle of sports + movies for $100, I can sell to a subscriber who is willing to pay $90 for sports and $10 for movies, and also to the subscriber who is willing to pay $90 for movies and $10 for sports. I get $100 from both in this scenario.

If I wanted to sell sports à la carte and movies à la carte, both the avid watcher and the casual fan would have to pay the same price for the same content. In my simplified case above, each product would have to be priced at either $90 or $10, and I either lose the casual viewer or leave money on the table from the diehards.

If this is true, then regulation effectively decimates the profitability of content, meaning less good quality content (though you would be paying less for it). I think the best way to get à la carte is to preserve market segmentation by adopting some kind of tiered pricing structure--maybe time delayed releases, maybe different quality levels, or maybe Priceline-style auctions. But none of that may work as well as bundling.

a la carte cable will never happen (given the current power structure and regulatory environment)

which suggests the question, how long will the current power structure and regulatory environment be able to last?

I'd planned to buy Game of Thrones when it came out on iTunes a couple months ago but I realized that even that still indirectly supports the buzz around this property and the way it's primarily delivered.

Instead I'd suggest fellow cord cutters just skip Game of Thrones entirely, don't pirate it, don't even watch it. Instead spend your money and leisure time supporting content that's provided online.

When your friends talk about GoT you'll need to have a few canned response-pivots like "is that about orcs? Lawl, hey did you guys see Lilyhammer? It was totally not godawful."

Mm, I see where you're coming from but that's not really the point here. It's more a matter of here's a great show that I want to support. But, I don't want to support the cable companies charging an arm and a leg for junk. I solely want to support the content creator (HBO) and its distribution service (HBOGO). Both are excellent quality and I want to pay for it and it alone. But, I can't.

"Nah, I'm not really into Pokemon."


(Am I the only one who still doesn't give two fucks about four fucks about television shows?)

I don't really get the anti TV people. Like any medium there is good and bad. TV definitely has its share of bad, but there is also some pretty good entertainment. Books, magazines, websites, etc... there is always going to be more crap than not, but for some reason I never read about people bragging about giving them up.

it's a form of signalling herd membership. compare people bragging that they are bad at maths - people are bad at all sorts of subjects, but mathematics is unusual in that people are proud of their ignorance of it, because they are essentially signalling that they are part of the "non-geek" tribe. similarly, people are uninterested in all sorts of media, but are proud of a lack of interest in tv because that signals their membership in the "non-mainstream" tribe.

It's not purely an issue of TV being "crap". Books, magazines and websites just aren't mass media in the same way TV is. For many people (maybe not for hackers), talking about TV shows is like talking about the weather — it's a common bond that helps you get comfortable with someone you've just met. I'd guess those of us who watch less/no TV feel left out of those conversations. But we still want to make connections, so we look for others who made the same no-TV-watching choice. It's a way to find reassurance that our choice didn't completely isolate us.

(I don't watch TV, but the above is my best attempt to explain the greater phenomenon behind posts like the GP's — not a personal statement.)

I hardly watch TV. Basically because my entertainment demands are asynchronous. I need entertainment on-demand when I need it. I can't adjust my schedule to the TV's schedule.

TV is for people who can sacrifice something else for the sake of a show. I can't and I won't because my time is worth doing something else. And when I need entertainment there are other things that fill that need.

Its like the radio, I turn it on when I need it. If something interesting is playing I hear, else I have a whole hard disk full of songs to hear to.

Also the ads and breaks between shows, movies and songs. When uninterrupted entertainment is available at dirt cheap prices. Who likes to waste their time watching/hearing ads.

TV is becoming the new radio, basically.

DVR has been out how long now? I can't remember the last time I adjusted my schedule to something on TV. The few shows I do watch I'm not even sure when they air. No auto-commercial skipping is annoying, but DVR helps with that even if it's a manual process.

You could Tivo or DVR, or watch content made for TV on DVD/Blu Ray.

True... just like the thumpers vs atheists debate it may be a overreaction to the anti-anti-TV people. I have real relatives who are incredulous when I tell them I don't know anything about American Idol or Snookey or Justin Bieber or the most-annoying current commercial (and don't care to know). A bit infuriating and tempting to brag about not having a head filled with garbage.

There are a few TV shows I record and watch and I don't know anything about Idol, Snookey or Bieber either :)

I do have netflix, but have to say I don't miss the regular TV.

There's decades of good TV to watch. You don't need the newest stuff. Who only reads books that came out last week? If you've never watched The Prisoner or Fawlty Towers, for instance, you can get access to them cheaply and watch a TV episode every day for about a month. And it'll be better than almost everything you could get with a TV subscription today.

There's a lot of enjoyment to be gained from watching the same shows as your friends at the same time, and that's easier to co-ordinate when that time is "when it airs".

True, but there's also a pretty rich DVD-lending culture in my experience as well.

Yeah it was inevitable that this guy would show up in this thread: http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-constantly-mention... .

My comment was more to point out that those same "I don't own a TV" people are now all obsessed with Mad Men and Game of Thrones (watched on their computers, mostly).

No, but as we don't really have anything to say on this topic, we don't. Selection bias.

I can't disagree this is relevant to HN's interests, as a specific instance of a broader trend that gets talked about a lot here.

I wouldn't care about the show at all (I haven't watched real TV, with the exception of Dr. Who at other people's houses because I'm impatient, for about 5 years), except that it has a genuine constructed language in it, and a darn good one. I'd like to watch it just for that; but just that isn't enough to make me go get cable, so I content myself mailing lists and David J. Peterson's blog.

I have stopped watching it, as I find what they show just too aweful, and only delivered at certain times (and on most channels interupted by commercials).

But I have nothing against tv shows per see.

The problem with voting with your wallet is that you and your friends are usually the only ones doing it. Feel free to vote with your wallet, but unless you have the momentum to overpower everybody else who consumes the show and doesn't care, it's not even going to bother HBO. Unfortunately, standing upon principle and not participating in HBO's distribution just ends up costing you some good entertainment, just as with taking a stand against DRM. Very noble efforts, which I used to be involved with, but ultimately there's just too much good stuff out there for me to keep letting it pass by. I guess I'm just unprincipled.

I respect Top Gear a lot, and Jeremy Clarkson was on 60 Minutes last year. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something similar to "if we paid attention to everybody that got offended, we'd make a bland show". I'm sure HBO is completely aware that you are offended by their distribution model. I'm also sure that for them to continue being as successful as they are, they simply cannot care. There's a lesson in that for entrepreneurs.

I still wish DRM wasn't a thing, but I enjoy the pants off of TF2 and most Steam games. I think you can be both, and it's not a binary world view.

Not watching game of thrones isn't really an option for anybody I know...

The message I get from posts like these: "I am entitled to watch show X right now. If the owner of show X won't sell it to me instantly, then I have the right to pirate it."

Is there money to be made here? Sure. I might even say that companies who don't offer popular shows on demand are making a dumb move. But nobody has the innate right to take whatever they want right now just because they can't wait until it's available legally.

But I would say the nature of this post is more along the lines of X is only available as A-Z at 10x$. If X were available as X for $, I would but it.

There are 2 types of pirates out there. Some really feel they have the right to do so. Some do it knowing it is wrong but they have no other way to access the content and if there were a Paypal set to donate to support the show would do so.

Not watching the show or waiting for the DVD to come out really is not an option. Waiting is not the point we're discussing.

Not watching the show is absolutely an option. Not one human being is obligated to watch any television show. I think what you mean is "these people really want to watch the show", and that's true. I know some people who really want to take oxycodone. The government won't let them buy it from a pharmacy legally, so I guess they should be justified in stealing it and then leave a donation for what they think is fair compensation.

Waiting for the DVD to come out is also an option unless you know for a fact that it will never happen (which neither of us does). It's not going to kill anyone to wait 6 months to see a show. Maybe they would lose interest in the show by then and not buy the DVD, sure. If that's the case, then who's going to care? Maybe it's not an ideal option, but it is an option nonetheless.

Again, is waiting really the point we're discussing? We're not talking about piracy in general. We're talking about HBO and GoT here. Not watching the show within a week of air is not watching it at all. If you participate in this at all, you'd know what I'm talking about. Waiting is NOT an option. If you're going go to an extreme analogy, I will say to some this is equivalent to watching the Superbowl a week later.

HBO should get paid for its viewership but it is not. With the whole HBO being part of Time Warner thing, I can agree that this issue really isn't solvable in an ideal way.

Personally, I watch shows based on their content, not when they air. Fortunately episode X will still have the same content if I download it tonight or buy it a year from now on a DVD. I won't enjoy it any less just because people aren't talking about it anymore, and I actually prefer it that way. So waiting is an option for me. I don't have some kind of irrational fear that I'll have an anxiety attack if I don't see a show within N days of its first broadcast like a lot of people seem to.

Right, and that's fine. But again, your argument really isn't part of the conversation then is it?

There are plenty of shows out there that I can wait until it shows up in the 5$ bargain bin and I'll pick it up and watch it. There are some shows that because I loved it I'll buy the entire collection edition.

But this conversation is for television watchers that watch things as they air. If there is a show that must be seen the moment it airs, there status quo is not a win-win situation and is a constant struggle between overpriced cable and cheap consumers resorting to piracy.

> has the innate right to take whatever they want

You aren't taking it. You are copying it. The only reason not to be allowed to copy it is if it damages the copyright owner.

But since the product has zero economic value to the owner from you (they refuse to sell it to you), you are not causing them any damage, and therefor you can not make any argument about why it's wrong. (i.e. it makes no difference to the owner whether you copied it or not.)

One of the criteria for fair use is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work".

And if you also include "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes" you have met 2 out of 4 of the criteria for fair use, so you could make a strong argument that it's actually fully legal.

> You aren't taking it. You are copying it.

If we want to get into semantics we should really pick some words that are more neutral. So.. you consumed it and did not compensate them for it. Better?

It is kind of funny when you think about the term leech used in the torrent world. If you download something and don't make it available for upload, you are leeching. You are taking but not giving back. So to consume someone's product and not compensate them for it... I guess that makes you a leech?

> So.. you consumed it and did not compensate them for it. Better?

Not really. Why do I need to compensate them? You give a creator money to encourage them to do more, not to compensate them. Compensate implies they loose in some way and you have to make them whole. That doesn't apply here.

In this case the author of the post want to encourage them to do more, but they refuse because they believe they can do better without his money. At that point his moral duty is complete, and they have no right to complain if he consumes (I hate that word since it implies destroy) their product.

You don't seem to get the point of copyright. You have it reversed - you think copyright lets creators prevent people from doing stuff - not so. The idea of copyright is to encourage creators. (It's right in the US constitution - check if you don't believe me.) If you try to encourage them, and they refuse, then you can do what you want and they can't complain (morally anyway). The restrictions only exist to serve the purpose of encouragement. If encouragement isn't possible then the restrictions are meaningless and are ignored.

A leech is only a leech if he doesn't try to give back, but in this case the author of the post tries, but his offer was not accepted. Even in the bittorrent world that is not called a leech, it's called a seeder.

> Why do I need to compensate them? [snip] Compensate implies they loose in some way

Compensate only implies that if that is the only way you choose to see it. If you have a job, the money you earn is compensation.... paying (someone) for work performed. Compensate means so much more. Also, consume means more than to destroy. But since those other definitions do not serve your purpose, it is convenient to turn a blind eye to them.

> A leech is only a leech if he doesn't try to give back, but in this case the author of the post tries, but his offer was not accepted.

But the author does not have the authority to dictate what offers must be accepted. If a creator is offering you a product and gives you Option A or Option B. It is not reasonable to assert that if you counter-offer him with Option C and he refuses that it gives you a right to still accept the product and neither of his chosen options.

Also, I didn't bring up anything about copyright. So I'm not sure how you know I have it all reversed.

> If you have a job, the money you earn is compensation.

It's compensation for the time you spent - they give you money, you give them time. The relationship to creative work is you give them money, they give you more. You do not pay for the existing work - you pay to encourage more work (not necessarily by them, also by someone else who sees that it's possible to make money this way). That's directly from the constitution of the USA.

If they don't want your money, then you can use the work (morally). What reason would there be to prevent you from using the work? People do not own creative works despite a lot of people really really really wishing they could. People simply have the right to demand encouragement, but if they refuse that encouragement then that was their choice.

I am well aware of the current usage of consume - I still don't like the word for this purpose (using something, where the original continues to exist). Check the dictionary - I will quote: "To destroy, as by decomposition, dissipation, waste, or fire; to use up; to expend; to waste; to burn up; to eat up; to devour." That was the only definition given, if you have others feel free to quote them.

> But the author does not have the authority to dictate what offers must be accepted.

Missed my point. Why does the creator of the work get to dictate that I can't watch it? He can't. He can only expect money as encouragement to create more. Once that is refused he doesn't get to tell me what to do.

> Also, I didn't bring up anything about copyright. So I'm not sure how you know I have it all reversed.

So do tell, besides copyright what give the creator of a work any right at all to tell someone else what to do? It was a reasonable assumption, if it's wrong then I have no idea what you are talking about.

2 things)

1 - But since the product has zero economic value to the owner from you (they refuse to sell it to you) -- In the case of Game of Thrones, you are refusing to buy it (either via HBO subscription, iTunes, physical media, etc.)

2 - Fair use is a legal defense used when you get charged with copyright infringement. It is not an excuse you give upfront. You can only claim fair use after you have been charged.

1: I have not checked, I assume it was impossible based on the post the parent made, I've never watched it myself or tried to buy (or download) it. I take his claim that he can not get it any other way at face value. Selling it a week later does not count BTW, (just in case that is what they are doing). If he wants it now, and they refuse then too bad for them - they lost his money. That was their choice and they should not complain.

2: Fair use is most definitely an "excuse" (as you call it). Fair use lets you decide if you are allowed to do something. You don't have to go to court before quoting a passage from a book in a review - fair use lets you do it without even asking.

Sigh. Not this ultimatum again...

Hurting 'Game of Thrones' Through Piracy Won’t Change HBO’s Business, It Will Just Get the Show Cancelled:


The most popular show on HBO will get cancelled because people are pirating it? Definitely disagree. It's not just critically acclaimed, it's among the most popular HBO original show in the network's history.

Pirating, of course, won't change their business. But even if I really want to watch the show (I don't watch it), I wouldn't sign up for Cable TV, and sign up for HBO on top of it just for one show. I see this as less of an ultimatum and more of a "hey your business model is fucked so you're not getting my money" thing.

To be more correct... it is more of a "hey your product kicks total fucking ass... but I disagree with you business model. I'm going to consume your kick ass product anyway... but you're not getting my money" thing.

I actually discovered that I am able to pay HBO for Game of Thrones. HBO decided to air GoT here in Brazil simultaneously with USA. I called my television provider, added HBO for R$ 30,00/mo (around $15.00) and after the end of the season 2 I just called there and removed HBO again. I am planning to do the same for season 3. Is it so hard for people around the world to do the same? (real question, not being sarcastic)

The people who are complaining don't have cable, so they'd have to pay $50+$15 per month for three months.

You're ignoring the cost of the cable subscription in the first place (unless your 'television provider' is the government and you don't pay anything).

Well, this season of GoT was 9 episodes. If you wanted HBO over the whole run so you could watch them live - you would need it for 3 months. However, if you're willing to hold off until last month, you could get by with waiting for the last episode to come out, buy one month, watch all episodes, then cancel.

I don't even own a TV, let alone a TV subscription. At the bare minimum, I'd be looking at $65 a month for a single TV show.

Have you guys thought about how many people are already paying for HBO ? Is HBO hurting for money?

Or is it just a bunch of geeks trying to get hbo for cheap? I know anti-piracy is not always popular but they are creating popular and original shows, why not support them?

The trouble is not that HBO is too expensive, but rather that there is no way for this "bunch of geeks" to pay HBO directly.

If you look at the current tweets, people are offering up anywhere between $8 and $20, which I imagine is considerably more than HBO's take based on their current revenue model.

The whole point of this website, I gather, is to convince HBO that their product is worth considerably more to the end user than what they're currently making, and that they can tap into a lot more revenue if they let people subscribe to their products directly, without the cableco middleman.

[edit] My impression of HBO pricing is completely wrong. It doesn't seem like HBO would stand to gain a huge amount based on how much people are "pledging".

HBO definitely thinks piracy is enough of a problem they're willing to hurt paying customers to try to stop it: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120418/08405618545/hbo-de...

At the same time they don't provide an option for legitimate "over the top" Internet video users to watch their programming without a PayTV subscription.

I don't think the issue is that HBO costs $10-15/month right now, but that there's also the cost of the cable subscription and the cable box. Aside from the programs on HBO, the vast majority of what I watch is over-the-air, so it's not too much of a stretch to say I'm paying $60+/month to get HBO legally.

>>Is HBO hurting for money?

I am pretty sure HBO charges money such that they hedge for losses that happen through piracy.

Few days back, I met a guy who runs a cab fleet. He pays his drivers once a week for the fuel they need. On further inquiry on home much he pays, it turned he always pays for atleast 4-5 litres of extra fuel a day. The drivers cheat, they say they need more fuel for lesser distance and cite mileage problems. But he was dead sure, that was not the case.

How did he hedge for all that. He takes fuel theft into consideration while billing his customers. Drivers don't loose out, the cab company doesn't. But consumers pay a little extra.

It's not cheap, really. HBO costs <$20 on DirectTV. Source: http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/content/premiums/hbo

As an American I'd rather sign up for "Take My Money BBC."

Would you pay $225 a year? That's how much it costs a Briton. ("The annual cost of a colour TV licence is £145.50")

$18/month? If I got all content that was produced for the entire history of the BBC, and all future content, then yes. I'm tired of having to wait for new episodes of QI to show up on youtube.

But keep in mind that content production is a fixed cost, so if you increase the number of subscribers you can lower the cost per subscriber.

You don't quite get everything-ever. Certain programs (including films) are made available online on iPlayer for a few weeks, but after that you usually have to wait for it to be repeated on TV (and usually again on iPlayer).

Would I pay $19/mo for BBC content? Yes

I would too. Absolutely love BBC stuff.

$19/month for what 5 TV channels and 6 radio stations? Pretty good deal!

I would pay that in monthly installments, provided it is ad-free.

I'd be willing to pay a lot more than that. If they wanted to charge me what Brits pay that would be fantastic but considering that is not currently an option I'd settle for paying more too.

It's hilarious that they apparently need to specify "colour" ;).

It is cheaper if your TV is black and white. You also get a reduced price if you are legally blind, although I am not sure how much of a discount you get.

Overall, I think the TV license is brilliant considering it provides us with an ad-free TV and news network. Plus, you only actually need a license if you watch TV "as it is aired." I.E. DVDs, recordings etc. don't require a license. It's less of a TV license, more of a live TV license. It always struck me as odd however that watching streamed live foreign TV on your computer counts under that however, and you need a TV license for that, to help fund the BBC.

You can get a discount if you are using either a black and white TV, a TV under a certain screen size or if you are deaf/blind.

Ok. How about if I'm blind AND deaf? Can I get TV for free?

Yes, you're getting it now.

That's about the same price as an HBO subscription, so I can hardly see why not.

If it was the only way my wife and I could get the content we would pay. We would even pay a lesser fee for the ability to stream some of their shows they don't allow to stream outside of Britain.

It is not apples to apples. That price includes streaming and over the air/cable license. I only want the streaming license.

Does $225 include radio, or is that a separate license?

And is a black and white teevee cheaper?

Not sure about radio, but black and white TVs are cheaper (£49 vs £145.50).


Radio is free -- you're only paying to watch live broadcast video (or to watch video that's simultaneously being broadcast, so live streaming of a TV channel counts).

There's no licence fee for BBC radio.

Does "Cable" in the USA have adverts?

Normal cable which is most of the channels does have adverts. "Premium channels" like HBO and Showtime and Starz do not, because they grew out of being uninterrupted movie channels ("Home Box Office").


HBO will gladly take your money...through cable. Just because you don't like the delivery method doesn't mean there isn't a way to access the content you want.

Compare this to movies. Is it the responsibility of studios to make sure you can watch the movie at home the very instant it comes out? No. You go to the theater and watch it if you want to see it as soon as it airs. Otherwise, you wait.

HBO is following the same path: use cable subscriptions as the avenue to get the content immediately, On Demand available soon thereafter, buy the DVDs or download at a later date.

I'm really tired of this self-righteous attitude that you are owed something from HBO. If you want to watch all of your TV through the internet, that's fine. But you have to live with the tradeoffs. HBO is one of them.

I worked on several commercial digital music projects in the time span between early napster and entrenched itunes. One regularly repeated meme of the era was that people didn't want to pirate music, they just wanted it "as easy" or "no drm" or "ala carte" or "all you can eat".

While statistically these were all guaranteed to be true for at least some users, in aggregate they were red herrings. The industry was in the process of significant decline due at least in part to online infringement. Over the course of several years mainstream services that more or less broke down all these barriers appeared but they failed to reverse any of the macro trends.

While many of the reasons are nuanced and disputed, a number of observations are relatively uncontested. Online sales severely cannibalized physical sales but failed to significantly cut down on online infringement. ASP dropped much faster than production and distribution costs. New, powerful intermediaries formed that dictated sales practices to the labels instead of the other way around.

Anecdotally, among friends and colleagues no one I knew significantly shifted their behavior. Everyone bought at least some music, and I don't think I knew anyone who refused to touch anything pirated. 12+ years on that really hasn't changed much, I still get emailed songs from rights holders or people who sell music and my friends with shared raid 5 arrays with all_the_music still buy downloads from their favorite bands.

The thing that did change is the reasons for piracy. Instead of the previous concerns people were now unwilling to support the majors, or wanted higher quality encodes, or simply thought that IP sales were outdated and believed that music acts should shift to solely making their money through touring and merchandise sales.

Whether these are reasonable new barriers or not I'm not at all interested in debating. I've thought many of them were compelling at various times. Rather what I think is interesting is that some number of objections always seem to exist.

There was an interview with a researcher on NPR yesterday that I caught. The discussion was on cheating (on things like taxes, etc.) and how in controlled settings almost all of us are small time cheats but few of us are huge cheats. The researcher attributed a key part of this to the idea that we all want to be the good guy - and that cheating within a tolerance allowed us to continue to view ourselves that way, but cheating too much made it hard for us to view ourselves that way.

While he didn't make any connection to reasons or extenuating circumstances, it seemed to jibe well with my own unscholarly impressions. That many of the reasons for intellectual property theft are constructed to allow a person to continue to see themselves as the good guy while doing something they consider immoral.

"Well, I want to pay them, but [barrier X] won't let me" is almost the perfect storm of this type of mental construct - pretty much unassailable, at least until barrier X is removed.

I'm only one data point, but:

I used to pirate (all of my) music. I have bought a grand total of one CD ever. Now I happily consume most of my music through a paid subscription to Rdio.

Similarly, I pay for netflix. I (grudgingly) go to theatres occasionally. I don't own and have no desire to own a dvd player, and pirate movies occasionally when they're not conveniently available.

Similarly, I pirate Game of Thrones, but would happily pay up to $5 per episode if it were an option. I will not buy the DVDs, as I have no desire to see it again. If I could buy the DVDs at the same time as the show airs (without getting off my couch), I would happily do so.

It is quite literally all about convenience for some people.

> Similarly, I pirate Game of Thrones, but would happily pay up to $5 per episode if it were an option. I will not buy the DVDs, as I have no desire to see it again. If I could buy the DVDs at the same time as the show airs (without getting off my couch), I would happily do so.

How about when you pirate the episode, you put the $5 aside, and when it's released on DVD, buy the DVDs, regardless of whether you want to watch it again? This has essentially the same result as buying the DVD "at the same time as the show airs".

This is what I have done with shows that are cable-exclusive. And as a perk, I end up with the DVDs.

Having stuff you don't want cluttering up your life is a perk?

Then donate the discs to someone who likes to collect physical media.

Assuming the pirate bought the disc as a penance/feelgood/whatever for downloading the media, this totally negates that whole motivation. To the studio/network, two people got to see the content for the price of one. Ironically, the giftee becomes the beneficiary of the piracy, but with none of the risk. And the pirate, who assumed all the risk, was the person who paid for it.

Therefore promoting the DVD business instead of incentively them to move to digital distribution.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Key phrase in OP: "at the same time as the show airs"

Strangely, I find I'm capable of waiting a few months.

Sure, why not, or waiting for ever and not watching it at all.

Issues: the marketing blitz and news don't wait for a few months, and the various communities around the show don't wait either, "waiting for a few months" means ignoring the marketing blitz (easy), deftly skipping all news of the show to avoid spoilers (annoying), being completely split from any possible community built around the show (annoying, and often a significant loss) and finally avoiding significant interactions with colleagues who watch the show, because they probably won't remember that you're not watching it yet when discussing the episode which just eared (downright shitty).

Meanwhile pirating the episode has none of these drawbacks, it's available hours after the broadcast on every country on the planet in high quality.

One minor correction for you. It's rare that a popular show is available hours after the original broadcast. Usually a few minutes and sometimes before the show even airs on the west coast.

It is available a few minutes after the show airs, but usually not in a very high quality. And I did qualify my notes with that.

OK, seriously? Watercooler discussion is the rationale now? That's a reason to take money from the pockets from the 1000s of people who worked months or years to make something you like?


> Watercooler discussion is the rationale now?

No, it's an argument. And it's got nothing to do with "watercooler discussions", people can talk without involving you, people can talk at the bar, people will talk, art is not just a personal experience it's also a social one and the social part is actually important — hell, there are a number of cases where it's fundamental.

It's especially the case for TV series (with significant and/or cult followings) as they become shared/group cultural artefacts and values and a significant section of social interaction.

> That's a reason to take money from the pockets from the 1000s of people who worked months or years to make something you like?

No, but I should not be surprised by your mis-representation since you seem to have no interest in discussing this.

It's a reason why "waiting a few months" is not an acceptable alternative.

And by the way, pirating does not "take money from the pockets of [people]" any more than not watching at all does. That doesn't even remotely make sense.

So you want the experience without compensating the people who made the experience possible.

It's entirely possible to compensate them if the experience is valuable to you. Not doing so is wrong. Sorry, but that's how I see it.

> So you want the experience without compensating the people who made the experience possible.

No. But yet again you're intent on strawmanning your way to feeling good about yourself, so I'm just going to stop this worthless "interaction".

> Not doing so is wrong. Sorry, but that's how I see it.

Sure, and you're free to do so, but — again — this has no relation to "tak[ing] money from the pockets [of people]".

What if you download it and then buy it later.. what would you call that?

I do this with movies sometimes. I don't always feel like watching things in my crappy local theater, so I'll buy a ticket online, and then torrent the film.

Still illegal, but.. my conscience is at least clear.

That would be fine, since you compensated the people who made the experience possible, as they have very clearly asked you to do.

No offense, but this stuff is not a complicated moral dilemma by any means.

But between the download and the buy there's just a "promise" to buy. Would this make it just as illegal (or illegal) as just downloading it?

"No offense, but this stuff is not a complicated moral dilemma by any means"

Well, I agree to some extend, but moral != law.

Well it is definitely a reason why the alternative offered isn't a good one. lots of things people do have "silly" social reasons, so don't dismiss those factors out of hand. Also, "taking money from the pockets of others" is an incredibly biased way to frame the discussion, and doesn't help at all.

In what way is money not being taken from the pockets of others?

The rationale that someone wouldn't buy it anyway doesn't hold when the argument is that they want it so much they can't wait for it.

Economically speaking there is no difference between losing money and not making money, but socially there's a clear distinction. You're not automatically indebted to someone just because they built something you want. No value is lost when a digital good is duplicated. The only thing lost in this case is an opportunity.

>The rationale that someone wouldn't buy it anyway doesn't hold when the argument is that they want it so much they can't wait for it.

The point is that customers wouldn't buy the show under the conditions it's currently offered to them anyway.

" No value is lost when a digital good is duplicated. The only thing lost in this case is an opportunity."

I know this is a popular justification for piracy, but surely you can see that a lost opportunity is in fact lost value.

> a lost opportunity is in fact lost value.

I know this is a popular justification for curtailing liberties, but surely you can see that this makes no actual sense.

So now it's "curtailing liberties" to ask someone to pay for value they are provided.


You seem to have no issue ascribing ideas they have never written to people who reply to your comments. I therefore assume (and assumed) you are in full and complete agreement with the various *AA over the handling of piracy. Including but not limited to rights-restriction, network monitoring, traffic shaping and mass legal threats.

Also, your comment was idiotic and I was spinning it the other way 'round to demonstrate this.

Your assumptions are completely incorrect. I support none of those things.

I do support content creators being compensated in the manner and amounts they choose to ask.

These are different things.

"In what way is money not being taken from the pockets of others?"

In the way that they are taking money out of their own pockets by not catering to this sizeable crowd.

Intellectual Property does not fit neatly into our existing socio-economic framework. This is one of the areas where that really shows.

I'd have more sympathy for this line of argument if I wasn't currently watching season 1 of Game Of Thrones.

When it aired, sure I wanted to see it. People I know were talking about it. But I didn't want to pay what it cost to see it then.

So you know what choice I made? I waited.

And now it's available in a format I want at a price I'm willing to pay. So I paid and I'm enjoying it.

And, in a development that would evidently be quite shocking to some in this thread, I'm finding that I have plenty of people to talk to about it.

Look. I would love it if they made the show available online the next day, like Mad Men does. I think they're mistaken not to do so. I think they'd make more money if they did.

But they don't.

So I wait.

Well I watched it at a friends who had it copied on his DVR. Does that make me a pirate? I was given a copy by another friend who did copy if off a DVR. I do have the blu-ray version of season one as well.

I will be watching season two without ever paying for HBO, again I am watching it via a DVR. How is my watching it on someone's DVR not the same as downloading it and watching it? In neither case did I pay for it, someone else did in both.

The true issue is that HBO sees more money at risk than they see to gain.

Suppose instead his solution was to find a buddy with HBO and watch the show together. Would you still say money is being taken, despite the 100% legality of this approach? If not, why?

Because someone paid for it, and more than one person watching at one location is factored into the price.

One of the biggest reasons for art existing at all - before it was ever about money - is as a social object, something to be talked about.

It's a rational. Remember, we're not looking for excuses, we're looking for reasons.

For many people TV-shows are a shared cultural event. Discussing the show is at least as big a part of the experience as watching it. Remove the shared experience and the show loses much of its total value.

I still pirate all of my music, but I give money to and promote artists that I listen to.

Rdio, Spotify, and other 'legal' solutions give pathetic amounts of money to the artist. I'd rather have a copy of the music in whatever format I want, on whatever device I want, played with whatever software I want, and spend a little extra time figuring out how to compensate the artist fairly for their contribution to my human happiness.


Your logic works if you only are going to listen to a song a few times, but after a certain threshold, the artist would receive more money than from a CD or iTunes purchase.

I also pay an Rdio subscription and enjoy it, but I still buy the records I find myself listening more often.

My reason is simply this: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music...

Okay lets do some simple math on this.

If I buy a song off iTunes, the artist gets $.09

Every time I listen to it on Rhapsody, they get $.0022

Some quick division: .09/.0022 = ~41

What this means is that, if I've listened to a song less than 40 times, the artist makes more if I buy it off iTunes. But once I've listened to it 41 times or more, the artist is making more profit if all those listens were on Rhapsody.

Now I don't know about you, but when it comes to songs I like I listen to them a hell of a lot more than 40 times. You say you buy the records you find yourself listening to more often? Then you are taking money out of the artists' pockets, because every 40 listens through the album on Rhapsody is equivalent to buying the album anew on iTunes.

To make it even more lopsided, consider just how many times more you would listen to those songs throughout your lifetime. Buy the CD once, and the artist will never see another cent from you, whereas the streaming services continue to pay them, forever.

Despite the irritating and condescending tone, that’s a good argument.

While Rdio and Spotify has some wrinkles to iron out, that chart is simply lying with pretty colours. Full album != single track != single play.

do you have better sources? it seems simple math to me. I have also seen a few articles from artists (not record companies) that say the same thing. if you have proof of the contrary it would make me feel better.

Ultimately, the best solution for audiences and companies is to simulcast the episode on TV and online. If you're a paid subscriber you can watch it for no additional charge; otherwise, the cost is $3 (or whatever).

Why do humans are always trying to oversimplify that which is already simple? People choose to pirate because their impression is that the pros (easier, no drm, cheaper) outweigh the cons (risk of getting caught, risk of all art ceasing to exist). That's all, just a simple pros vs cons we all quickly do for every decision we ever do in our lives.

No need to try to find cheap pseudo-psychological explanation to why people cheat just so you can justify why you feel comfortable calling piracy "theft". It is what it is, trying to oversimplify the simple with pre-made labels, will just end up making the simple look complicated (as your explanation) for no good reason. Because your oversimplification is throwing variables away, you end up having to make stuff up to explain the gaps, which will always be an imprecise bandage. Which will have more gaps, and need more bandage. So you end up with these Frankenstein hypothesis that won't get you anywhere. All of this mess can be easily avoided if you accept people pirate simply because the pros outweigh the cons.

Now I'll just go back to building a solution instead of whining.

> risk of all art ceasing to exist

That isn't even a remotely realistic worry. Humans have been creating art and "giving it away" ever since they've been humans. There is a risk that more "expensive" art will stop being funded (though even that is a stretch right now), but there is no possible realistic threat that art will cease to exist short of a mass extinction.

I buy high-bitrate, DRM-free MP3s from Amazon. It really couldn't be much easier, and it's already pretty cheap (generally $0.99 per song), so the only reason remaining is that people get something for nothing. No one can compete with free.

I bought shows on blue-ray that Hulu has to watch once simply because of the advertising and bit-rate. So, IMO you can compete with free. It's just harder.

And then some blu-rays still include unskippable advertising anyways. It makes me feel like I cannot actually purchase content. I can only pay for the privilege of watching advertisements + content.

9 times out of 10 (possibly even more) the "ads" on a DVD/BR are trailers (also a form of content) for other movies by the same people involved in the movie you're about to watch. I don't really have an issue with that. There is usually at least one trailer for a movie I've not seen and it reminds me to. And in my experience, I've usually been able to fastforward through them even if you can not directly skip them. Aside from the Anit-Piracy and FBI things, I've never seen an actual commercial for a product (Pepsi, Honda, etc) on my rented/purchase disk.

I somewhat agree that not all "take my money" calls are honest. While not deliberately untrue, the reality of what it costs will simply be above what some who say this are willing to pay (and some will lie to themselves and others that they would pay).

As far as cheating goes, I would put it this way: humans seem to have an appetite for risk. The irony of cars becoming safer is people drive faster and more dangerously. Every person has a different tolerance level. I see cheating as being in that same dimension, at least to some degree.

Part of it is also social constructs. Divorce once had a huge stigma. Now it doesn't. Now people get more divorced. This is of course a simplistic example and by no means demonstrate definitive causation but fundamentally it's reasonable to assume that the difference between being ostracized vs "nobody cares" has to have a significant effect.

It's also I think why law and order is such a tenuous thing. In the West where there are strong states, relatively low corruption and relatively strong enforcement (compared to, say, African countries). This keeps most people honest as the risk of getting "caught" is sufficiently high to stop such behaviour. In more lawless countries there seems to be a tragedy of the commons in play where many more people think to line their own pockets at the expense of the state because everyone else is doing it.

How you get above the line to sufficient conformity is a bit pf a mystery once you're below the minimum threshold.

The progress of our species depends on the passing of knowledge to the next generation. So "sharing information" has become an evolutionary trait.

We started with language then writing, then the printing press then telegraph radio, and phones and now digital information.

We'll eventually get to the point where all of the worlds digital information will fit in devices the size of dice. And we're not far off either.

I actually do agree with you that we tend to rationalize our actions, but that's not some kind of epiphany.

Edit: If you're going to down vote the least you can do is rebut.

I did not downvote, but I don't think your idea about "all info will fit in a small space" holds up.

One problem is that sensor sizes are increasing at similar rates to storage sizes, for mostly the same reasons. Same goes for our ability to process data into novel forms, and in general to create new data.

Moore giveth, and Moore taketh away. Good for our line of work.

One thing, that I find particularly interesting, is that the bittorrent numbers in the U.S. are decreasing. BitTorrent traffic is now responsible for 11.3% of all U.S. Internet traffic during peak hours, compared to 17.3% last year. While that number appears to be decreasing in the U.S. it is increasing most everywhere else. How do you rationalize such a phenomenon when the "aggregate of users" are just a bunch of thieves?

Personally, I think it is easier for an industry to paint its customers as a bunch of vicious thieves, rather than people expecting content delivery to change with the times. This seems indicative of industries that are a monopoly and are out of touch with their customers, but I fear I would be painting them with an equally broad stroke.

Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/94722096/Sandvine-Global-Internet-...

In raw numbers P2P traffic continues to grow considerably, it is just falling in percentage as other high bandwidth services become more common.

> One regularly repeated meme of the era was that people didn't want to pirate music, they just wanted it "as easy" or "no drm" or "ala carte" or "all you can eat".

Someone put it well recently: "We don’t want everything for free. We just want everything"


I think people have an entitlement attitude about digital content (movies, music, software, games, etc) that doesn't exist for other tangible products. And I think this entitlement has come out of being able to get away with stealing the content easily.

Many people can't afford/don't want to pay for a Rolls Royce, they aren't their target market, but they don't feel entitled to drive one. So they don't go out and steal one and then say "if only you had made the Rolls Royce available at the local dealership in Randomtown, USA instead of Manhattan and at a more reasonable price of $30,000 I wouldn't have stolen the car".

I'd feel entitled to drive a Rolls Royce if someone offered me one. Which is what happens with P2P: users offering others copies of stuff. There's no stealing except in some people's minds.

"And I think this entitlement has come out of being able to get away with stealing the content easily"

Probably true. But it seems like it's shifting to some degree; A lot of normal people I know pay for Spotify, for example.

I also feel parts of the industry brought this upon them-self and are just reaping the fruits of their own decisions the last 12 (?) years.

I'd rather see people put their money where their mouth is, in a non-hypothetical way.

For example, pick some otherwise random date a few weeks after the DVD set will be released and organize a concerted buying effort amongst "pirates" on that specific date.

As a purchaser of the season 1 blu-ray... lets get to the secondary issue of buying.

The packaging of the videos is SHIT... there are ads, I have to sit through FBI warnings, I have to sift through bad menus to get to the content I want, and I have to deal with trying to find features when everything I select says "please insert disc X"

I paid $70 CND and with the exception of the actual quality of the picture (blu-ray is fantastic), the whole experience is VASTLY inferior to the piracy route.

That said, I'll still be purchasing the Season 2 Blu-Ray when it comes out, because I very much want to support the production of this series.

buy the dvd, leave it in its box, and pirate the show. everyone wins.

But why? Why couldn't they have just made a good Blu-Ray boxed set? Why does disc three have nothing but one episode on it (no extra features... everything I click while using disc3 says "please enter disc 5", while disc 4 has three episodes on it? Why do I have to sit through an FBI warning when I dont even live in the states? Why do I have to see ads for other HBO shows when I put in disc 1?

I spent good money on the fucking thing? Why couldn't they have given me a BETTER experience than the people who steal it?

yeah, i fully agree with you, and i have for the most part opted out altogether - i don't pirate and i don't buy the dvds due to the fundamental brokenness of the model. however, if you do want to watch the show, and if you want to support the creators in some way (and, sadly, support their multifarious parasites as well), the only real way to do it is to buy the dvd (so you have paid your money to the smallest possible superset of people who deserve it) and then pirate the show (so you actually have something watchable).

Let me get this straight because I think this is what other sources are implying: HBO sells a license to their channels to the cable companies for a flat fee. The cable providers then recoup this by selling subscriptions to HBO or pushing more customers to subscribe to cable. In that way, cable providers actually pay more than the cable providers collect from consumers for HBO subscriptions. This really makes the question not would you pay the same price as HBO costs on cable for Game of Thrones access, but would you pay more? The cable provider's contracts may even preclude directly collecting from consumers. If this is true, I think the community needs to realize this remains a lost cause and instead encourage Netflix's model of creating high quality content directly for streaming.

HBO charges per-subscriber, not a flat rate. But the cable company deals with billing, customer support, equipment costs, etc.

There is a difference between people saying they will pay for something versus all of those people actually handing over hard currency for it.

Unfortunately, the market works in such a way that unless you build a mechanism for people to pay a reasonable price for a game at launch (see Steam vs Piracy), then you lose out. Example: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114391-Valves-Gabe...

Even a trial run, like pay $5 and watch S03E01, would be a really great test to see if the market is telling the truth here. (But the availability could NOT lag behind HBOGo or broadcast, it'd have to be simultaneous.)

Simply tweeting the intention is an empty gesture. How about setting up a publically auditable escrow account with the recipient set to be HBO/Time Warner. Deposit $20 (or whatever is fair compensation) and then go ahead an acquire a copy of the video. That's what I thought this would be when I saw "Take my money, HBO": a realizable offer of money.

Is there any legal precedent for this, i.e. attempting to pay for a product or service, being ignored and then paying and taking it anyway?

I attempted to buy your Porsche for $20. You ignored me so I took it anyway.

Obviously it's illegal.

Theft and copyright violation are not comparable. Both may be illegal, but they aren't the same. Would it be illegal to build a replica of the Porsche for myself?

The GP's example was bad because he mentioned taking a product or service, rather than making a copy of something and keeping it. I'm assuming he didn't mean it the way it reads.

The part I tried to stress was "fair compensation", but perhaps that's not the correct legal or contractual term. The closest real-world analogy I can think of is this: you want to by a DVD but cashier is ignoring you. So, you slap a $20 bill on the counter and walk out with the DVD. Of course, the analogy fails because we're not talking about a physical product and the way copyright is set up allows the copyright holder to decide who can and can't get access to the media, even if two parties are offering practically the same price.

> The closest real-world analogy I can think of is this: you want to by a DVD but cashier is ignoring you. So, you slap a $20 bill on the counter and walk out with the DVD

Wrong. In your scenario, the DVD in question is for sale, and is clearly listed as such with a price and all. You know exactly how much it costs, and you give that much money. And the transaction occurs in a place that is designed for this very purpose. There is no confusion or grey area here.

An exact replica of a Porsche would violate Porsche's trademarks and patents. And the copyright for the operators manual in the glove box. And incidentally also the regulations governing VINs.

When Paramount canceled the last Star Trek series, the Trekkies actually tried to raise money to pay for producing another season, but Paramount turned them down.

Did HBO ever consider asking some fixed price per simple download? No streaming, no complicated subscription services. Just payments per files. There can't be any logical reason not to offer it, if it's so widely pirated already. They can only convince some of those who pirate not to do it, if they provide the same level of simplicity and convenience. In any case, it can't make it any worse for them, than it is now. It can probably only make it better.

HBO is ~$15/month or ~$180/year if you don't cancel. A season of Game of Thrones is $30-39 on iTunes. It seems pretty obvious.

I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to compare. Rather try to compare those who simply pirate the stuff as soon as it's out with anything of the above. I think if they'd offer something around $2-$3 per episode right away (without any iTunes), they could gain more from those who don't pay anything to them now.

I'm comparing the amount of money HBO would get from people who only watch Game of Thrones. If you could get it without subscribing, a lot of people would cancel HBO.

Sure, you can get it on iTunes that way.

Not right away, and not without DRM (i.e. as a portable file). So it can't compete with pirated copies that way.

HBO (and others) should put a donation button, publicize it to pirates and report findings. If money starts pouring then we get a win/win, HBO needs not to invest in streaming technology / bandwidth / DRM / whatever and the pirates can compensate the producers/artists.

What would be done with the money should be specified upfront and held to high transparency levels and of course involve the artists.

Perhaps the issue is that with their business model they want people to pay $x per month for years on end?

Since people who are paying a sub are way less likely to cancel than people who make a 1 off purchase are willing to come back?

Perhaps they don't even care that much about piracy because their money is already in the bag from cable subscribers?

Once everyone stops using cable they will change their tune.

Next step: Take my European money, HBO.

Or if you absolutely can't offer it standalone; what about as an option off service(s) more reasonable and likely to already be in my pocket, as an anti-cable viewer. For example, why can't I get some premium options off the back of my Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live, etc service(s)?

There are mentions of HBO having to foot the infrastructure if going away from Big-TV providers, but the above can handle that now. Charge an extra $5 over Big-TV, if these other services want you to foot some of their transport bill; I'd be willing to pay more, while still paying less than needing a cable sub.

I'm already paying those other guys. Are they not playing ball? Tell us so, and we can start focusing some of our internet hate at those greedy suits, as well.

That has the same problem. For every Netflix+HBO subscriber gained, they could lose several cable+HBO subscribers.

Not going to work IMHO. HBO is partly so successful because of its exclusivity. It is THE premiere channel to get, and will give that away only when the fall of traditional TV is apparent.

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