Re: Same as USA
Spoilers, if you've not seen season 1. Just in case lol.
I think the key difference here is HBO are the producers of the show. Foxtel are distributors. I would still think the iTunes release could be managed with a little more granularity in this day and age. Especially if you are selling the season pass.
HBO know their stuff. Convert long running book series with established fan base in strong concert with the authors. Character actors rather than big names (in the US anyway, lots of tasty british talent). It's like the BBC, only with more nudity and homosexuality. I mean, it's like the BBC, only it broadcasts more nudity and homosexuality :D
They pay attention to the fans, they seem to actively self parody, and set up the non fans. Having the big name actor get killed off (in an appropriately Borimir type arc. Oh Sean, stop doing the wrong things for the right reasons) is just the start. Characters have arcs, that often end in brutal bloody ways. Ones you care about, ones that are the classical hero stories. Because it fits the world, if you rise up your family tree gets pruned of sons. Bravery gets you killed, luck saves you. *grin* Besides, there's only 3 real protagonists*, and I'm not certain about one of them. Everyone else is mincemeat, be it frozen or burnt.
The fans buy the box sets even if they've torrented it. Or have it bought for them. I've introduced two family members to the series (as books, mutual interest in real worldish fantasy series) and while none of us has bought every book and every box set, we've got 1-2 of each. I technically own the whole series in trade paperback, but none are in my house at this moment :)
My crude understanding of content delivery is that yer physical boxset is still the biggest pay cheque (outside of US) and those are going to sell well enough (assuming show is passes fan approval). So Foxtel fees are on top of this.
I'd really like to see HBO offer some bundle package. Digital access to the show as it's released, which can expire, and the boxset. If the execs are so worried, they can test the damn water first.
The freetards will always be freetards. And noisy with it too. Your classroom example is poor, it only takes 1-2 to disrupt the room. Think of it like a movie theatre. You can pay for a ticket, or you can sneak in. I've known people who never paid to watch a movie in a theatre for years, yet the complex he'd do it to was doing well while the other 2 chain cinemas nearby went bust. Most people paid, or just not comfortable at the idea that where stealing. Also didn't impact when they sold out, since they assigned seating then. Freetard got his free movies, movie theatre still sells enough tickets to pay for movies, and makes money on overpriced popcorn and services (nicer seats with unlimited popcorn, drinks and snacks delivered including booze)
I would be interested in how HBO calculates the value of something like GoT. Obviously there's what it's flogging the show itself for through the various formats, but how much extra advertising does GoT bring in to HBO? How much brand value does GoT add to HBO?
This might sound a bit harsh as I do love the beeb, but I would be happier if I heard my favorite series was being done by HBO than the BBC. I'll get 10+ shows a year for 5+ years, vs 4-6 shows 2-3 times.