Bell: No Plans for Game of Thrones Viewing without Cable Subscription


This week Canadians pirating episodes of Game of Thrones received letters of infringement from their Internet Service Providers, such as TELUS.

One reader shared a snippet of their letter, which interestingly enough had a passage informing pirates “it has never been easier to watch HBO programming legally in Canada”.

Below in bold is the passage, which reads like an advertisement from Bell Media, which owns the rights to HBO Canada, informing users of ways to watch via CraveTV:

We have information leading us to believe that the IP address XXX.XXX.XX.XXX was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorization (additional details are listed below). HBO owns the copyright to Game of Thrones and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.

Plus, it has never been easier to watch HBO programming legally in Canada, and stream HBO on your favorite devices, by adding HBO Canada to your television subscription to watch current programs or by subscribing to Bell Medias CraveTV at to watch all of the best programs from the HBO library.

As the owner of and/or subscriber using the IP address at the date and time below, HBO requests that you immediately take the proper steps to prevent further downloading or sharing of HBO content and additional infringement notices, including removing any programs used to access unauthorized content and securing the network.

When CBC News contacted HBO, spokesman Jeff Cusson said “The statement you reference seems self explanatory, it speaks to the unprecedented availability of HBO programming.” But when asked about how HBO was distributed in Canada, the spokesman deferred comment to Bell Media, the rights holder of HBO here.

Bell informed the CBC it works closely with the American network to send out copyright infringement letters, and that it stood by its message to Canadians, adding its recent HBO deal in Canada “has resulted in a significant increase in the availability of HBO content.”

The company explained HBO cable subscribers can stream any of the latter’s series using TMN GO and older episodes and seasons are available to any subscriber of CraveTV.

Bell told CBC News that while it continues “to assess the market,” it has no current plans to make Game of Thrones available without a cable subscription.

Users in the United States have HBO Now, a standalone subscription service at $14.99 per month–that does not require cable and can be streamed from the web, Apple TV or an iOS device.

This decision, according to the CBC article, means some users without cable subscriptions but willing to pay for an on-demand HBO service in Canada, will continue to pirate the show, or circumvent geo-restrictions by using VPN services like this lifetime subscription to Hotspot Shield Elite for 59% off.

There’s one way to combat piracy–and that’s make it easy to view content at a reasonable price. HBO is a cash cow since Game of Thrones is one of the most-watched television shows, so if you want to view it legally in Canada, you’re going to have to pay to play.

How are you watching Game of Thrones in Canada? Would you pay for a standalone HBO streaming service here, if it was available?


  • YoGoerz

    I’m not saying borrow someone’s Shaw log in and use the FreeRange TV app, but… do. You won’t regret it.
    (and that cable package doesn’t even include a subscription to HBO… so I’m not sure how that works, but who cares!)

  • Bafoon

    Two very different issues at play here.

    Issue #1 – idiots who continue to pirate content off the internet. It’s #@$ks like them that the rest of us cannot have good things. It’s why good shows get cancelled, and why shows like GoT with its budget are so infrequent. Piracy is a disease that needs to be eradicated. And I’m with Bell, Telus and whoever in fighting this fight.

    Issue #2 – idiots like Bell who make it harder to abide the law because of their close minded business model. Have these morons not learnt anything from the business model of Hulu and Netflix? Cable programming is a dying form of media which is purely on its last legs. And these Canadian telcos are way behind the curve. Open the market, offer HBO as stand alone. Charge $9-$10 – make it easily accessible, have a good app, support media centres like PS/XBOX/AppleTV and the potential is unlimited.

  • Mr Dog


    I always program my PVR to record all the shows I watch but 9 times out of 10, it is just so much more convenient for me to watch a pirated version of it on my laptop.

  • Geoffrey Spencer

    I have been pestering Bell and Rogers for non-cable subscription for a well now. Rogers now have SportsNet with a non-cable subscription but at $24.99 a month for basically the same shows on four channels. Too high in my opinion. If Bell and the others do not want to change then maybe the CRTC and the federal government and their agencies may have to split the cable companies exclusive distribution rights of the shows. Too much concentration of power to basically two or three companies in this country.

  • xeronine992

    As for #1, I don’t and will never have a cable subscription. The only way content creators are getting any revenue from me is through Netflix. If it’s a show like Game of Thrones that isn’t on there I’ll simply download it. Am I ruining it for everyone else? I don’t see how. I’m never going to pay for a second streaming option and whether I download it or not it isn’t ruining it for anyone else. Do explain how you feel that’s the case.

  • Randyritraj

    I’d pay a reasonable amount for it but I’m not paying for cable since it doesn’t align with our lifestyle (crazy schedules so we need stuff on demand). We pay for Netflix and a VPN service so until they make it reasonably priced and available in the way we want to consume it I’ll continue to connect to Amsterdam and download an HD rip (3GB usually) in an hour for future watching on our schedule.

  • PuddlesPuddles

    I would happily pay $15/month for HBO Now. Please take my money HBO!

  • Bafoon

    Oh I feel strongly and my comment above is for absolute and utter crack down on folks like you, as nice as you might be in person, to ensure the rules are obeyed.

    It takes indifference from one individual to make us an indifferent society. The reason why we pay over the odds for shows and content, is because a healthy number prefer to steal the content without paying for it.

    In the end piracy is stealing. You walk into a store, pick up a candy, put it in your pocket and walk out. That’s stealing. And that’s equally as low-life. This ingrained mentality that “it is OK to steal, because it’s my god given right to have access to everything I want, and because I don’t have it I shall get it unlawfully for free” – that is BS and that is regressive.

    Alas, you’re fine for now thanks to the beurocracy and laziness of this system! Only poor suckers like that poor kid from Duluth are really caught and tried for piracy. Which is a pity, he was a kid, society told him it was okay to pirate songs. So he went it. Got caught. And ruined his life.

    Now, if you excuse me, I have a PVR GoT waiting for me, which I’ll fire up right away.

  • dudemaster

    I would pay for HBO Now.

  • This will change when Canada supposedly switches to pick and pay in December of this year. It should be interesting to see what they charge for a year of HBO.

  • erth

    it should be on itunes (or somewhere else) and we should be able to pay per episode the day after it is shown on hbo. i see this as the norm going forward for all programming. it is short sighted to continue down this road of needing a cable subscription. cable is old and needs are redo, and seeing per episode is the correct answer.

  • MistahTibbs

    Well, technically, I’m paying $21/mth for HBO AND I get the movie network channels.
    I WAS torrenting GoT eps but decided to support the channel. For the 3 months the show is on, anyway.

  • Brenda

    I’ll not pay $30 a month for cable to watch just Game of Thrones, but I might pay $10 a month to do so. I can get the news (CBC, Bloomberg, Reuters) and most of my entertainment (Netflix, Mubi) on AppleTV so there’s no point in having cable with its limited selection.
    I use a VPN to watch programs on some UK and European networks that are not available in Canada – not on cable or the Internet or on iTunes. I would pay for them if I could, but how do I send the money for a British or French TV license without potentially losing access to the only shows that are important to me? Such national boundaries are ridiculous in the 21st century.

  • Sterling Archer

    You’ll never eradicate piracy. Ever. That’s been clear since well before high speed internet. It’s the war against drugs all over again, but even LESS effective and filled with a bunch of BS warnings and scare tactics.

    Trying to stop piracy is about as futile as treating bedbugs by glaring at them sternly. The sooner the companies and people such as you realize that, and instead listen to #2, the sooner things will normalize.

    No matter what anyone does, piracy will continue. It’s a zero sum game.

    And with this BS attitude from Bell, all it’s enticing people like me to do is just cancel my subscription and pirate. It’s mind boggling that companies don’t realize that this stern parent attitude isn’t doing any favours for anyone.

  • Tim

    I’m happy with HBO Now, even if I’m paying $20 CAD for it.

  • Brad Fortin

    “In the end piracy is stealing. You walk into a store, pick up a candy, put it in your pocket and walk out. That’s stealing. And that’s equally as low-life.”

    Except piracy isn’t stealing, it’s copying. When you steal a candy from a store, the store can no longer sell that candy and has lost money. When you download a copy of Game Of Thrones, HBO still has *infinite* copies it can distribute. A digital copy, unlike a physical copy, is not a commodity.

  • Brad Fortin

    So if I want to legally watch a season of Game of Thrones I have to pay over $600 (cable for 3 months (only available in a bundle) + HBO for 3 months + installation + tax)? This is why piracy is so rampant.

  • Bafoon

    are you effing kidding me?

    The opportunity cost of you stealing a candy: Store cannot make money on the good. Yes!
    The opportunity cost of you stealing a content: The distributor and content maker cannot make money on the content.

    There are finite sources of money. With you not contributing, that source is impacted.

    You can try, but there is no justification to piracy. 0.

  • Brad Fortin

    At no point did I say it justifies piracy. All I said was that piracy is *not* the same as theft. Theft removes the original item and results in a loss, piracy leaves the original item intact and results in no loss.

  • Jezzah

    I use a mix of online file lockers and torrents. I sit behind a secure vpn that doesn’t keep logs. Good luck stopping me.

    Your arguement that piracy hurts the industry is flawed in the sense that most pirates would not pay to access the content in the first place. You cannot lose a sale if there was never any intent to purchase in the first place.

    If you want to make a serious dent in piracy, follow netflix’s model, or better yet, take a look at Valve’s Steam distribution platform.

    Make it affordable and most importantly, very easy to access content legally, and the convenience factor alone will help overcome piracy.

  • Bafoon

    Okay. Piracy comes from? Pirates? Who were they? By your definition Pirates were those who “Copied” ornaments, ships and GOLD YARRRR!

    Euron Greyjoy is rolling his eyes right about now!

  • Bafoon

    Me, as a consumer, I have two options. Pay the price (and complain through the right and wrong channels), or don’t consume the product.

    You, as our role model, “hey! I should have everything I want at a price point I like – if you don’t give it to me. I’ll TAKE WHAT IS MINE!! YAARRRR”

    And full power to you. You’ve not been caught. Awesome job! Keep hiding!

  • Bafoon

    I hear you. Hence I made the two points myself. Because I know this is a losing war. I don’t intend to change the mind of anyone on this forum or other – but I find amusing that the society has come to a point where it’s OKAY to cheat to get what you want! Only further accentuated by the supposed bravado of these thiefs who openly disclose their tendencies to “copy” or steal content.

    And no argument on Bell and Rogers being behind the curve, the amount of money being left on the table is quite shocking! If there were only smart people to lead them to shore….

  • Brad Fortin

    Again, theft is not the same as copying. I didn’t think it was a difficult concept to grasp but you seem bound to prove me wrong.

  • MrXax

    No worries, HBO/Bell; I’m happy to Torrent your content for free until you guys get your shit together.