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Could Game of Thrones change the TV industry?

Last updated 12:59 16/04/2014

This new world that we inhabit, where we're all connected and have basically the entire knowledge of human history at our fingertips, is amazing.

I've reconnected with old friends and reminisced at just how much of a dick I was in my 20s.

I've made new friends around the world, in places I've only ever seen on television.

And I've been called a sexist racist who's basically to blame for the demise of New Zealand society.

Okay, it's not all good, but you get my point.

But still the biggest issue that I have - and one that is liable to continue in the short to medium-term - is the issue of timely availability of content.

I still remember being in the cinema watching The Empire Strikes Back and gasping in absolute horror as Darth Vader unmasked himself as Luke's father.

Can you imagine what would happen if that movie was released for the first time in 2014?

Within seconds Twitter would be all over it and your Facebook friends would have posted on your timeline before you could utter the (incorrect) phrase "Luke, I am your father".

Chances are you still even remember when you first saw that film and that scene - it was part of our growing up and had a HUGE impact. Nowadays that impact would be minimised and that's pretty sad.

The problem is thus - television shows are designed to entertain and get people to tune in week in week out.

This requires storylines which bring you to a point where you have to tune in the next week to find out what happened.

That invariably leads to inadvertent spoilers - people discussing it on the internet, offering up theories as to where the story is going.

Or in the case of Wrestlemania XXX, where I had a delayed viewing party, people sending you messages with 'UNDERTAKER LOSES' in it to deliberately screw it up.

And there's no easy way to avoid it short of locking yourself in an internet-free room for a period of time - not the easiest thing to do when you work on the internet.

I've been heartened to see Consumer in New Zealand bring our lack of options with regards to television shows to the fore, via blogs from the excellent Hadyn Green.

Hadyn used Game of Thrones to highlight how we, the humble fan in New Zealand, has basically three options - illegally download it, pay Sky a fortune to see it  shortly after broadcast in the US or avoid social media for months.

I don't believe $81.90 - the cost to watch Game of Thrones in HD is value for money. In fact, I know it's not.

But there's a real disconnect between television companies and their fans that really requires a rethink of how things are done.

It's not helped by our lack of decent streaming options and the monopoly that is Sky Television in this country.

It's no longer good enough for us to wait days (or months as in the case of Homeland) to watch shows. That's the old model. It's broken.

This isn't about wanting content for free. It's about wanting content on a timely basis and at a fair cost. But it's easy to see why so many people in New Zealand will torrent the latest Game of Thrones episode as soon as it's finished in the US.

Paying for content is now an established business model - Netflix have done it brilliantly with a huge number of subscribers here despite having to jump through hoops to do so. And Spotify have made a real impact in New Zealand.

Even the new WWE Network - where wrestling fans pay US$9.99 per month for access to all pay per views (PPVs), weekly shows, back catalogue and new shows - is a prime example of what a forward thinking company can do.

It's time to get with the real world. Let's hope Consumer's interest in this issue will drive even more people to accept it.

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