Game of Thrones star Finn Jones has described contracts restricting when fans of the hit show can watch the new season as "archaic".
The way we distribute entertainment at the moment is quite archaic.
Season four of the hit show is launched on Monday afternoon on Foxtel in Australia, but with a number of restrictions on when fans can watch the show digitally.
Fantasy royalty: Finn Jones who plays Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Photo: Supplied
Jones, who plays Ser Loras Tyrell, Westeros' Knight of Flowers, said he did see problems with the global distribution of the hit television series.
''The way we distribute entertainment at the moment is quite archaic,'' said Jones, who is touring Australia for the Supernova Pop Culture Expo.
''People want it when they want it,'' he said.
Lena Headey who plays Cersei Lannister.
Foxtel has an exclusive deal with US premium cable channel HBO for season four of the series, which premieres on Monday and is based on George R.R. Martin's seven-book fantasy series (two yet to be published), A Song of Fire and Ice. The new deal shuts out iTunes and Quickflix users, who will no longer be able to view new episodes as soon as they have aired on Foxtel's Showcase channel. They will have to wait and buy the season in full when the finale's credits roll.
Foxtel signed the output deal with HBO in October, 2012, which gave it a longer "hold back" on programs, delaying their availability to free-to-air broadcasters, and allowing them to air HBO content day and date with the US.
Those "hold back" provisions also keep HBO content off SVOD (subscription video on demand) platforms (such as iTunes and Netflix), however under the terms of that deal, certain "legacy" provisions allowed other deals in place (such as HBO's deal with iTunes) to run their course until the individual contracts expired.
The legacy provisions only covered Game of Thrones until the end of season three (and True Blood until the end of season six). Subsequent seasons are not covered, which means they cannot be made available on SVOD until Foxtel has finishing airing the entire season. (That is, until Foxtel's "first run" window on the season ends.)
Foxtel's Play app, which allows customers with broadband connections to watch content from the service's channels on their computers and the XBox360, has been made available on Playstation 3 in time for the new season. And Foxtel Go will enable customers to watch on their smartphones. But the idea that viewers need to subscribe to a full service in order to view a program like Game of Thrones, and are not able to buy episodes individually and immediately, ''is not flexible and doesn't reflect the consumer needs of the time'', according to Jones.
Indeed, Game of Thrones was the most pirated show in Australia last year. According to data from file-sharing network TorrentFreak, Australians downloaded 5.9 million episodes.
He described Australian fans as ''laid-back, and there aren't too many weirdos, which is nice''.
Jones' fans will be glad to know that Ser Loras returns to the centre of the action after being sidelined after the death of his lover, Renly Baratheon, in season two. He's even in a climactic scene early in the new season. Jones would not say much except that the sequence was filmed over five days in Croatia in the boiling sun, with glazed raw meat on banquet tables drawing flies and sending out foul smells.
But, he said: ''There was a nice tension in the air.
''We were making television history.''
- with Michael Idato