HBO GO Craps Out During True Detective Finale

Demand sinks streaming service

It’s not TV, it’s HBO GO—but for many fans of the series True Detective, it was more like HBO NO GO.

The season finale of the Matthew McConaughey-Woody Harrelson procedural aired on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT, but viewers hoping to watch it via HBO’s online service were out of luck. The live stream crashed shortly after the linear telecast began, and many users took to Twitter to report that the loading screen stalled out altogether.

Echoing the Nietzschean musings of McConaughey’s tormented ex-cop Rustin Cohle, one True Detective enthusiast noted that “Time is a flat circle,” much like HBO GO’s loading symbol.

Per Marketwired’s MAP social analytics platform, there have been 27,927 mentions of HBO GO on Twitter in the last 24 hours. Of these, a whopping 75 percent were posted by users age 21-25. New Yorkers complained more than residents of any other state, as 29 percent of all HBO GO-related tweets originated from the Empire State.

At 9:50 p.m. EDT, or 10 minutes before the finale wrapped, HBO GO chalked up the balky service to “overwhelmingly popular demand,” before asking subscribers to “please try again soon.”

As of 11:10 p.m. EDT, users in Brooklyn, N.Y., still were unable to access the service. HBO’s dedicated True Detective site, however, is up and running.

Those who missed the finale may want to be in front of a TV set at 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. EDT, when HBO will repeat the coda in its entirety. The episode also will be available Monday via HBO On-Demand.

Some were quick to suggest that the crash was directly related to HBO’s seeming indifference toward the practice of password sharing. Whatever the cause, it’s also worth noting that HBO has no control over its own streaming infrastructure.

The snafu comes on the heels of ABC’s bumpy first attempt at live-streaming the Academy Awards. As was the case with the HBO service, the WatchABC app failed due to unanticipated demand.

An already over-stuffed Sunday night lineup was further convoluted by the spring premiere of CBS’ The Good Wife, which returned after a three-month hiatus. Also in the mix: AMC’s The Walking Dead and the twin premieres of ABC’s Resurrection and Fox’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The reboot of the old Carl Sagan science series was simulcast at 9 p.m. EDT across all Fox entertainment channels.