So it turns out this live streaming of popular TV programs is harder than it looks.
Viewers who opted to watch Sunday night’s finale of True Detective via HBO Go, the pay channel’s streaming app, were treated to the kind of shocking twist they probably could have done without: The streaming service went belly up shortly after the final episode began airing at 9 p.m. ET.
And the reason you couldn’t watch True Detective on HBO Go Sunday night? According to HBO, it’s because too many of you were trying to watch True Detective at the same time.
Due to overwhelmingly popular demand for #TrueDetective, we've been made aware of an issue affecting some users. Please try again soon.— HBO GO (@HBOGO) March 10, 2014
To watch HBO Go, whether it’s viewing new episodes as they premiere or combing through the back catalog of HBO original programming, you’ve got to subscribe to the pay cable service—in theory. In practice, if you borrow the login information of a willing accomplice, you can watch HBO Go to your heart’s content. And you know what? HBO really isn’t going to stress about that.
Paying customers, however, may feel differently after Sunday night’s streaming snafu. An article on Hypable (which I spotted thanks to the Washington Post) wonders if it’s not time for HBO to start tightening up the rules for its streaming app, which is available on mobile platforms as well as set-top boxes and gaming consoles. Specifically, the Hypable article suggests that HBO think about restricting the number of people who can log into any one HBO Go account at a given time. After all, this is the second high-profile season finale where HBO GO went belly up—last year’s Game of Thrones season-ender suffered similar issues.
It’s also the second consecutive weekend in which your plans to stream a popular television broadcast may have gone awry. If you thought finding out the identity of the Yellow King was complicated, you should have tried streaming last week’s Oscar ceremony. Despite limiting the first-ever Oscar live stream to a handful of markets, ABC couldn’t deliver the telecast to viewers tuning in on mobile devices. The circumstances behind the Academy Awards and True Detective streaming failures are very different, of course, but both incidents go to show that traditional broadcasters are going to have to put in a lot more effort before streaming becomes as seamless as simply pressing the power button on your TV remote.
HBO did have some good news on Monday, though:
The issues affecting HBO GO last night have been resolved. Thank you for being patient.— HBO GO (@HBOGO) March 10, 2014
So consider those barn doors securely closed, even if the horses are several counties away binge-watching Girls.