Fans of HBO’s blockbuster series Game of Thrones found they had more than White Walkers to worry about as they settled in to watch the series seven debut last night, after Foxtel Now’s servers buckled under the load and left many viewers high and dry.
Instead of getting a rousing speech from newly-appointed King of the North Jon Snow, subscribers were met with loading screens and failed connections, and took to social media to vent their frustrations.
“Dear @HBO – this is why Australia leads the world in illegal downloads of #GameOfThrones. You licensed to the wrong company @Foxtel,” wrote one disgruntled punter on Twitter.
“You knew this was coming. If this is Server Load based you really need to reevaluate the demand because let’s be honest, it’s 2017 guys,” said another.
— Mena (@alldaymena) July 17, 2017
— Peter Gatt (@Algattos) July 17, 2017
In a statement to SmartCompany, Foxtel spokesperson Bruce Meagher said the company was “devastated” about the technical issues, but highlighted the fact similar problems were experienced worldwide.
“As was the case in the U.S. and Latin America, the unprecedented rush for a subscription just prior to the telecast, crashed the system. Foxtel engineers are working through the night to resolve the issue. It’s most unfortunate and we apologise to those affected,” he says.
“We are committed to resolving the technical faults immediately and together with our broadcast partners around the world, we are giving this the same degree of priority. We assure anyone impacted that they will be able to watch the first episode of Season 7 either On Demand or via one of our encore screenings throughout the week.”
Many Foxtel customers called for compensation from the media company, with one Facebook user saying “you’d better be offering a free month after this or refunding our money”.
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“I imagine there will be a great number of customers demanding compensation considering you stitch them up then fail epically [sic] in its delivery,” wrote another.
A spokesperson for Foxtel told SmartCompany the business was looking into providing compensation and would release a decision later today.
“No excuse” for Foxtel outage
Game of Thrones is one of the 21st century’s most hyped and discussed television show, with millions of fans across the world. The seventh season will be the first to run without the guidance of George R. R. Martin’s book series upon which the show is based, and fans are hotly anticipating the inevitable plot twists and character deaths that will arise.
It is for this reason that marketing expert at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble believes there was “no excuse” for Foxtel’s server outage.
“It sounds like they were really caught off guard, and they shouldn’t have been. As a streaming company they have the best data from anyone on how popular the show is given a number of people who watched it in the past,” she tells SmartCompany.
“It’s another case of traditional media companies scrambling to keep up with the demand of the new digital media. Foxtel will be in trouble if they’re not meeting consumer demand, it’s a real eye roll moment.”
As the launch of the season’s debut on Foxtel crashed and burned, Gamble believes there are a number of lessons for business for the next time you’re looking to launch a hot new product.
“The main thing is to have more capacity than you think you’re going to need, as the issue here for Foxtel is that they didn’t have the bandwidth or capacity for people to stream when they want to stream,” she says.
Gamble also advises businesses to use any data available to them to gauge the demand for their product, including sussing out the scene on social media for any signs of hype.
“Analyse the demand for the product or service before you launch, and scrape the web to get an idea of how many people are talking about your product before you launch it,” she says.