Shortly before 9 p.m., HBO’s streaming service, HBO GO, went down, frustrating millions of viewers who were excited to watch the season finale of True Detective. The site is barely functional, occasionally loading, but unable to play any videos.
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
The drama is a smash hit for the network, second only to Game of Thrones and averaging almost 11 million viewers each week. Exactly what proportion of those views are HBO GO logins isn’t clear, and further muddying the ability to scale the service properly is the fact that tons of users share their logins with friends. Although, the network’s CEO currently has no problem with that practice.
Man, so many HBO GO subscribers tonight are totally going to cancel the subscriptions they don't have.— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) March 10, 2014
At this point it’s a race for whether HBO Go or the Pirate Bay gets the TRUE DETECTIVE finale up first.— Sam Adams (@SamuelAAdams) March 10, 2014
(In case you were wondering, Pirate Bay got it first.)
But there are greater forces at work here than just a glitch. The infrastructure that allows HBO GO to function is not HBO's own. The streaming service, and associated operations like customer service and billing—even authenticating logins—is handled by cable companies like Time Warner and Optimum. So if you're really mad about the outage, it's probably not worth writing an angry missive to HBO. You might just want to yell at your cable company. Again. For, like, the thousandth time.