Canadians Will Stop At Nothing to Watch 'Game of Thrones'

Many say they would even pay for it, so long as it's not through their cable provider.

by Manisha Krishnan
07 June 2016, 12:00am

It's easier to come back from the dead than to legally stream Game of Thrones in Canada. Photo courtesy HBO.

HBO is calling out Canadians for pirating Game of Thrones, but many of those pirates say they don't have a reasonable legal way to watch the show.

The American network has been sending email blasts (through internet service providers) to Canadians it suspects are illegally downloading GoT.

In addition to mentioning all the usual scary stuff about copyright infringement, the emails directly address Canadian GoT fans by claiming "it has never been easier to watch HBO programming legally in Canada, and stream HBO on your favorite devices."

Canadians, in turn, say that HBO, much like the lords in King's Landing, doesn't understand what's going on north of the wall.

"Dear HBO. Game of Thrones is not easy to pay for in Canada. Let us subscribe to an HBO streaming service. Until then, you force us to pirate," tweeted Victoria resident Shawn Gray—a sentiment echoed by hundreds of people online, many of whom are willing to be named in the media. A CBC story on the issue garnered more than 600 comments, mostly from Canadians griping about the limited (and expensive) options for legally accessing HBO.

HBO is only available through Bell in Canada; To get it, you have to pay for a cable package, which range in price from $25 (if you can find the skinny option) to $110 a month, and then purchase an additional $20 add on. In the US, you can access Game of Thrones though streaming service HBO Now for $15 a month. In Canada, Bell offers two streaming options, CraveTV and TMN Go. The former doesn't offer Game of Thrones, while the latter is only available through a cable subscription.

"Dear HBO, I think that your channel produces consistently outstanding content and I'd be very happy to pay for it. I'd even be prepared to hold my nose and pay Bell for it," said one indignant Reddit user. "What I'm not prepared to do is pay them their additional ransom to get bunch of shitty extra movie channels I don't want and wouldn't watch simply because you gave them the rights to sell your content."

Read More: Last Night's 'Game of Thrones' Revived an Old Favorite

The consensus seems to be that Canadians "really want" to pay HBO to watch GoT, but aren't willing to sign up for traditional cable packages.

Bell told the CBC it's not currently considering allowing people to stream HBO so, in all likelihood, the standoff between the network and its Canadian fans will continue.

Netflix experienced a similar backlash when it cracked down on Canadians who were sneakily accessing American content, with many users threatening to ditch their subscriptions in favour of all out piracy.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

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