Game of Thrones season four: broke piracy records Photo: Supplied
Foxtel's "outdated business model" is to blame for Australia's high rate of pirating Game of Thrones, according to consumer advocate and advisory group Choice.
Choice's spokesperson Erin Turner has lashed out at the pay TV service, saying they only have themselves to blame for the record rate of Australians downloading pirated versions of HBO hit show.
Ms Turner told the ABC's 730 Report Foxtel's subscription options meant consumers who wanted to access just the one show were forced to buy other programs.
"It expects people to pay for a whole range of products when they may want one. You're getting Real Housewives of every city, rather than just Game of Thrones, which you want," Ms Turner.
Foxtel locked in an exclusive deal with HBO earlier this year. The deal meant other popular providers such as iTunes and QuickFlix wouldn't be able to offer the show until the season ended.
"There are few choices. If you want to watch Game of Thrones for example, Foxtel is the only place to go," Ms Turner said. "It also locks people into viewing content on particular devices. They're developing this. Ultimately the problem is there are few competitors to Foxtel in Australia."
The season four finale this week smashed viewing records garnering 9.3 million live watchers in the US, passing The Sopranos as HBO's most successful show.
Around half a million Australians subscribe to Foxtel's Game of Thrones offering.
But almost one in ten viewers pirated the show. According to file sharing site TorrentFreak, the season four finale will see downloads of over 7 million, with 1.5 million downloads in the first 12 hours.
Foxtel and Choice are engaged in an advocacy battle about what actions the federal government should take to address Australia's high rate of piracy.
Suggested ideas include an internet piracy filter and a possible graduated response system for citizens downloading shows from torrent sites, which could result in fines, reduced bandwidth or having their internet service cancelled.
Unsurprisingly, Foxtel is advocating for the changes.
Choice has raised over $10,000 to produce an ad campaigning against "costly policies onto consumers and ISPs that won't even address the root causes of internet piracy".
The group has been rallying against Foxtel's inflexible offering since the exclusive deal was revealed.
"Would it be so terrible if you allowed customers to watch the content they have paid for when and how they want? Or perhaps I am a spoilt and ungrateful consumer, and as an Australian, I should just watch TV at the time and on the device I am allowed to," Choice's Matt Levy wrote in a blog post in April.
Season four is now available on Google Play and Quickflix, but is yet to be published on iTunes.
Update: Choice has since claimed the ABC misrepresented their position. A spokesperson for the company told Fairfax Media the organisation never has and never will support piracy, and Ms Turner's comments should be understood as advocating for better competition.