I attended the official preview of the next HBO miniseries, Game of Thrones, a few days ago. The first episode of the miniseries will be premiered on HBO Asia on August 28th, then aired every Sunday at 9 pm . More than a dozen reporters attended the preview. Officials from HBO Asia –based in Singapore– even flew to Jakarta to give a press conference about this highly anticipated miniseries.
The atmosphere was nice and the meal was great. But no reporters asked questions about the miniseries. And the reason was obvious. They have seen it.
It’s because Game of Thrones was already aired since April on HBO America. The four-months delay to HBO Asia, in this case, doesn’t really matter to Indonesia fans.
After the preview, some of us gathered at a nearby cafe and a woman reporter took out her Mac where she kept files of Game of Thrones from episode 1 to episode 10 (Complete Season 1). She had seen them all .Care to make copies, anyone?
How did she managed to get those episodes? Simple. “Piratebay,” she giggled.
For those with slow internet connection, there is an alternative method. A fellow reporter then told me, semi-laughing, that Season 1 are already available in DVDs in Glodok and Ambassador area –two places of haven for pirated DVDs in Jakarta.
And there is also a third method, which is convenient if someone’s too lazy to move his ass to Glodok or unable to download from Piratebay ( ’cause the network admin doesn’t allow port forwarding –which is my case). That is local server.
A quick Google search on Indonesian pages will quickly reveal that Game of Thrones, and many movies or miniseries (you just name them), are stored on dedicated local serves in some forums.
I browsed through their list of downloads and.. it was a huge list. More than 300 movie titles and miniseries are available for http download. You want complete series of Sherlock (BBC), Luther (BBC), Heroes Season 4, or Battlestar Galactica? It’s just right there at the tip of your finger.
And the speed was amazing. Normally I get a download speed of 50-70 kb per second from foreign servers. But those local servers allow you to have 500-700 kb per second download speed.
When I tried to download at night after 10 pm when the congestion was supposedly low, well well well… I got 1 MB per second download speed.
Some geeks in those forums have even modified Game of Thrones files into .mkv. They called it ‘Paket Hemat’ (meaning ‘economical package’), since .mkv files are smaller than .avi files but they retain the superb image quality.
Each episode of Game of Thrones is only about 250 MB. With such download speed, it would only take 3 minutes to download each episode. I could just download all Season 1 episodes simultaneously and went to kitchen to make cappuccino and instant noodle and those downloads would be complete when I got back.
Those files have sat there since April when Game of Thrones was first aired in HBO America. And now HBO Asia will air those episodes in Indonesia next August, and call it ‘premiere’?
Cable tv is still considered a luxury in Indonesia. We’re used to watch tv for free. Those who subscribed to cable tv are mostly upper middle-class and it’s very likely that they also subscribed to broadband internet in their homes. If a non-Geek like me could simply find the forums where Game of Thrones are stored, it’s safe to assume that those cable tv subscribers already spotted them too. So I dont think the miniseries will be a premiere for them.
Most journalist who attended the official preview last week are not that Geek either. Some even complained about the lousy internet connection in their office, both for foreign or local servers. But they still managed to notice that Game of Thrones miniseries were actually already circulated in Indonesia. And that’s no surprise, ‘coz journalist who covers film industry usually visit Glodok or Ambassador area to see what new titles emerge in the piracy market.
But then there is also the irony. Most Indonesian publication will not write about it. We will not write that Game of Thrones are already circulated here, since officially it’s not still aired until August and we dont want to look like we enjoy access to piracy market or illegal file-sharing. Journalism is supposed to upheld the law, at least when printed on paper.
So, not-mentioning the fact that Game of Thrones were already in Indonesian market is a safe and logical choice.
I just read an article from one of the reporters from last week’s official preview where she wrote about how ‘Indonesian fans will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the fantasy miniseries’.
And I just cant help laughing reading the article.
Wait a bit longer? Are readers so stupid to believe that?
It’s just funny to read those words when you know that the miniseries were already here 4 months ago and, perhaps, had been watched by thousands of people. The forum I visited, for example, is a very famous forum in Indonesia and has more than 1 million members.
(They even had a poll asking members of their favorite Game of Thrones characters –Arya Stark and John Snow topped the list)
I think the journalist writing the article also knew such phenomenon, but she just played dumb
I haven’t wrote my own review yet. But I dont know if I have the heart to play dumb, writing lines like ‘will have to wait a bit longer’ and completely ignored the real fact in Indonesian society.
While I dont want to look like endorsing piracy and illegal file-sharing, there is also this thought that omitting such phenomenon in an article is also against good journalism.
A good journalism should make readers aware and informed. Deliberately omitting a widespread (though illegal) phenomenon in online forums, in my opinion, poses a question to the function of journalism itself.
Those forum members will surely laugh and consider my review stupid, lack of information about trends in online forums, if I wrote things like ‘will have to wait a bit longer until August’.
And there’s also this worry that playing dumb strategy will make informed-readers consider my writing (and of course my magazine) an unreliable source of information.
Maybe I could just mention the phenomenon a little bit, but at the same time try not to sound endorsing those illegal activities? I dont know. Lets see how my editor will react to it.*
Update: My editor also opposes the idea of playing dumb. He believed I should mention that Game of Thrones are already widely circulated here, as long as I dont mention the name of forums which host the episodes. I guess problem is solved then.