Today is the day Game Of Thrones finally reenters our lives, setting the stage for the final adventures of Ned, Robb, Hodor, Ser Pounce, Margaery, Khal Drogo, and all of the other characters who have been with us from the very beginning of this long journey. For a lot of Dish subscribers, though, this is just another Sunday where nothing particularly cool or exciting will happen, because—due to a dispute between Dish and AT&T—Dish doesn’t carry HBO. See, because corporate America is a wonderful place, AT&T owns HBO and couldn’t come to a licensing agreement with Dish last year, which means HBO (and therefore Game Of Thrones) is not available on Dish at all.
The obvious workaround here for diehard Game Of Thrones fans is to, you know, cancel Dish and go to DirecTV or cable. For some reason, though, Dish doesn’t seem to like that plan a whole lot, so—as reported by Variety—it has begun directing subscribers to sign up for a free trial of streaming service HBO Now and then just keep using Dish for everything else. An HBO Now subscription costs the same amount as what Dish had been charging for HBO ($15 per month), but the weird catch here is that Dish doesn’t make a dime off of HBO Now subscriptions. The only reason for doing this is to remind Dish users that there are other options.
Variety notes that Dish lost a million subscribers in 2018, a third of which came in the fourth quarter. Dish blamed these losses on its disputes with HBO and Univision (a Spanish-language network that tried to launch an English-language media empire that worked out super well and everybody loved it). Univision was blacked out on Dish for nine months, but there’s no end in sight for the HBO issue. Luckily, you can just pay for another subscription service! And hey, if none of the channels on Dish are showing anything you want to watch, maybe throw in a Hulu or Netflix subscription while you’re at it! All that matters is that you don’t stop paying for Dish. Never stop paying for Dish.
Anyway, as all of this is going on, DirecTV just went and released the first episode of the new Game Of Thrones season early. In a world where HBO is so terrified of leaks that it doesn’t even give out any Game Of Thrones screeners anymore, this is a Valyrian steel whoopsie.