It Took 3.5 Hours for HBO GO to Come Back After the True Detective Debacle

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 10 2014 7:31 PM

It Took 3.5 Hours for HBO GO to Come Back After the True Detective Debacle

HBO GO went down last night during the highly anticipated season finale of True Detective.

Image from HBO GO.

As True Detective fans were getting more and more hyped up on Sunday, HBO GO was rapidly approaching disaster. The streaming service had promised to post a stream of True Detective's season finale as the show aired at 9 p.m. ET. But instead the whole site went down. Needless to say, people were devastated. And angry. And hilariously angry.

The network equipment company Sandvine reported on its Internet Phenomena Blog about the outage. Sandvine's data shows HBO GO failing at 9 p.m. right as True Detective was posted, and coming back up between 12:30 and 12:45 a.m.. At that point there's a small, hour-long surge in traffic while night owls (and West Coast dwellers) presumably watched the episode. Then traffic drops off in the early morning before starting to climb again today. It's unclear exactly how much traffic HBO GO deals with on a regular basis or Sunday night in particular, since the company doesn't release figures, so it's difficult to say whether it should have been more prepared.


As the Washington Post points out, people have been speculating that password sharing is partly to blame in HBO GO's reliability woes. Perhaps it isn't preparing for the correct number of users during high traffic times because its estimates of how many people use the service are too low. And this alleged naivete is corroborated by something HBO's CEO told BuzzFeed in January. Richard Plepler said, “It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business. ... We’re in the business of creating addicts.” If the outage was caused by unexpected traffic, then it isn't exactly “no impact.”

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 10:41 AM Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With 8 Seconds of Static 
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.