Game of Underprovisioning takes out Foxtel and HBO

After much anticipation, Game of Thrones buffs around the world were met with the devastating reality that they would have to wait a few hours longer to watch the seventh season premiere.
Written by Tas Bindi on

The high number of viewers trying to watch Game of Thrones' seventh season premiere caused global outages of streaming services from HBO and Foxtel.

Customers tuning into Foxtel's streaming service Foxtel Now on Monday night to watch the season premiere were, instead, met with an error message.

According to InternetOutages, complaints against Foxtel started at around 6.00pm and grew exponentially as the 8.30pm encore broadcast time arrived. More than 3,600 complaints have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

Foxtel, which owns the rights to show Game of Thrones first in Australia, said its apps -- including Foxtel Now, Play, and the Foxtel app -- crashed due to "unprecedented rush for a subscription" that would enable customers to watch the much-anticipated TV show.

Services were back up and running by 11pm.

The number of Australians subscribing to Foxtel Now leapt by 40 percent in the 48 hours prior to the screening of Season 7 Episode 1, the pay TV provider said.

"The combination of new Foxtel Now customers signing up and existing customers upgrading to get the Drama Pack so they could watch the show, put unprecedented pressure on our technical operations," Foxtel said in a statement.

Foxtel's post-mortem revealed its identity management system -- which verifies customers' entitlement to view content -- was unable to verify some customers, as the number of transactions reached 70,000 within the span of a few hours, 14 times what it normally handles on a daily basis.

"We had anticipated heavy usage for last night's premiere; however, the traffic that eventuated far exceeded expectations. Foxtel's engineers are examining what steps can be taken to mitigate any recurrence," Foxtel said in a statement.

HBO, the show's producer, faced the same problem, which was similarly driven by the "extraordinary surge" in demand for viewing Game of Thrones.

HBO's main website and its streaming service HBO Now were both down during the premiere episode.

Foxtel advised that those who are looking to sign up before next week's episode should do so a few days in advance, though the company said it will do "everything possible" to ensure that the incident does not reoccur.

Game of Thrones has been declared the most pirated TV show for five years in a row.


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