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Termination: Flying in for the Big Spoil

Flying in for the Big Spoil.


14 October 2014

Text:/ Graeme Hague

Big screens are everywhere. At least they’d better be. You see, I’m flying over from WA to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final and I need a big screen.

Being Fremantle football club tragics, six month ago it appeared our boys in purple were glory bound, so we ambitiously booked flights. Of course, there was always a risk we’d be disappointed and, yes, unfortunately our team failed dismally. The players couldn’t kick a goal if their livelihood depended on it – which it does, incidentally. The consolation is my wife and I enjoy a week’s holiday in Melbourne soaking up the Grand Final atmosphere without the stress of begging/stealing tickets into the MCG to see the game live. After all, that’s impossible. After the MCC has handed out tickets to the respective clubs’ members, the press, corporate sponsors and anyone who’s been upset by Eddie McGuire over the last six months – filling the entire Southern Stand in the process – humble punters like us couldn’t get a seat even if we waved fistfuls of gold bullion at the gate. Despite actually travelling to Melbourne, we’re still reduced to watching the game on a big screen somewhere (we could do that at home). And even though most football fanatics can attach some kind of allegiance to one finalist or the other, this year we don’t care about the result.

Not caring about the result would make our weekly lives far simpler. My Better Half and I live unsynchronised lives and watching the football together normally requires recording the game and waiting until we’re both home. This means avoiding big screens everywhere and a total communications blackout from all devices to avoid friends and family offering “woo-hoos!” and “yays!”, or worse an “aargh!” via social media, giving away the result (football folks don’t have a large vocabulary). Dodging big screens is also imperative, because they’re invariably showing the game. For example, I walked in – and straight out again – of my local pub one weekend when I saw the game we were recording showing on the telly behind the bar. The barmaid, with my customary pint already half-poured, nearly called an ambulance assuming I was having some kind of psychotic episode. 

It can be a real challenge not discovering the result before you want to know it, and disappointing if you do.


Which brings us, believe or not, to internet piracy. Australia is apparently the most guilty country per head of population for pirating video content from the web and everyone’s been pointing fingers in all directions, blaming the inflated cost of online programs, the lack of providers, al-Qaeda … you name it. Nobody considers one serious factor behind illegal downloads: if you don’t watch that favourite program as soon as you possibly can, someone or something will tell you how it ends, before you get a chance to see it for yourself. Bastards.

It’s a big deal – spoilers can suck. Australian TV networks tend to show “the latest” episodes of programs days or weeks, and even months after they’ve aired overseas and fans are not only impatient for their next fix of a thriller, they want to make sure no one spoils the ending for them. Within hours of any broadcast all social media is chockers with commentary about the episode and it’s only a matter of time before you ‘know how it ends’ despite how hard you try. The best solution just might be downloading a copy from the net somehow and watching it for yourself ASAP. A lot of people – gasp, shock, horror – would even happily pay for that.

Now, I’m not condoning internet piracy in the slightest, but I do get annoyed with the overblown estimations of how much of a problem it is. It supposedly costs ‘billions’ of dollars in lost revenue, but the reality is that a very large percentage of illegal content is downloaded by people who would never pay for it. Music is even worse in this regard, because a zillion geeks collect pirated tunes like Hugh Hefner collects Playboy Bunnies – they never actually want to play them or pay for them (although age might be an issue for Hugh these days). Piracy only has a win when somebody makes a conscious decision to source illegal content they’d otherwise have forked out cash for.

Not being able to watch that Game of Thrones finale roughly the same time as the rest of the world is another big factor. So in my never-so-humble opinion, media networks should make content fairly-priced, immediately and easily available, and at a high level of quality that’s superior to shakey, illegal stuff – and piracy will return to the realms of one-legged sailors, lost treasures and Tourette’s-afflicted parrots.

Talking of which, my personal treasure search next week will be for the biggest, highest-resolution, loudest television screen showing the big game complete with cold beers and warm pies. 

That shouldn’t be hard to find in Melbourne, right?


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