The Game of Thrones crash wasn’t (only) Foxtel’s fault, HBO also to blame

When you sat down in front of your TV or laptop last night and tried to fire up the first episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones,...

When you sat down in front of your TV or laptop last night and tried to fire up the first episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones, its likely you experienced issues. While Australia’s legal method of accessing this IPTV content is through Foxtel Now (previously Play), many point the finger at Foxtel for last night’s outage.

At some level that’s definitely understandable, given that’s the company your monthly bill gets paid to, for the streaming service. In reality, what last night’s global premiere outage highlights, is that Foxtel is granted access to the stream from US network (aka the right’s holders) HBO. Of course this creates a single point of failure that was exposed in last night’s outage.

Given the sensitive nature of copyrighted material that costs millions to make, HBO are understandably nervous about letting it touch anyone else’s servers (even the best partner) ahead of the global release, but a live connection to base is completely dependent on their authorisation service working flawlessly, which it wasn’t.

Update

Foxtel has since clarified the issue. saying their system that checks if you’ve paid, and for packs like the Drama Pack is known as the Foxtel Identity Management System. This became overwhelmed with an unprecedented volume of requests. Essentially a system that should have had more than enough bandwidth, didn’t and a the volume of traffic overwhelmed the server(s) taking the requests during the GOT frenzy.

Typically the system sustains around 5,000 processes per day, but when that ballooned to more than 70,000 in just a few hours, the system broke down and prevented some users from logging in. This is similar to the issue experienced by HBO which then prevented access to partners like Foxtel from accessing the stream.

Even if Foxtel had no issues last night, viewing of Game of Thrones would have been interrupted, as HBO experienced an ‘unprecedented rush for a subscription’ just prior to the telecast, which crashed the system.

Foxtel spokesman, Bruce Meagher said

“We are devastated that some customers experienced technical issues tonight. 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.

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. We will continue to communicate with affected customers to ensure they are fully informed”. 

The latest episode of Game Of Thrones will screen again today at Midday, 9.15pm, on Wednesday at 1.20pm, Thursday at 10.10pm, Friday at 11.25am and Saturday at 8.30pm, but we all know the conversation happens real-time, so missing it live is a big problem. 

It sucks this happened, but it is important to place blame where it ultimately lies and in this case, that’s HBO. They should definitely have the capacity to isolate any congestion or downtime on signups with the delivery to existing customers and partners. Hopefully there’s a debrief occurring today and plans being implemented to ensure this can’t happen again.

Understandably people were pissed and turned to Twitter to express than anger.

https://twitter.com/krystalfister/status/886923792999563269

More information at Community.Foxtel.com.au

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.