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'Game of Thrones' Sets Piracy World Record, But Does HBO Care?
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'Game of Thrones' Sets Piracy World Record, But Does HBO Care?

Apr 15 2014, 10:17am CDT | by

Due to the relative inaccessibility of HBO in most parts of the world, hidden behind a cable subscription paywall, then a separate subscription just for the channel itself, the channel sees piracy...

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15 weeks ago

'Game of Thrones' Sets Piracy World Record, But Does HBO Care?

Apr 15 2014, 10:17am CDT | by

Due to the relative inaccessibility of HBO in most parts of the world, hidden behind a cable subscription paywall, then a separate subscription just for the channel itself, the channel sees piracy rates like no other. That’s especially true for its most popular show, Game of Thrones, which is usually the most pirated program of the year, every year.

But this weekend, the show broke a piracy world record after one of the most talked about episodes ever aired. Everyone wanted to see what all the fuss was about at the royal wedding (no spoilers here), and as such, the episode was downloaded 1.5 million people downloaded the episode in the first day. The record? That 193,418 were sharing a single file of the episode simultaneously. The previous record was 171,572 people sharing one copy of the Game of Thrones season three finale.

So, this seems like a pretty big deal, and the fact that HBO already has a streaming service in place, HBO Go, would indicate that a solution to this problem is obvious. HBO should unlock Go from the need to have a cable subscription. $15 a month gets you unlimited access to all their programming, and no need to order 300 other channels you couldn’t care less about.

That’s the utopic view of the situation, but unfortunately it overlooks many important factors. The biggest one is that HBO is owned by Time Warner Cable, a cable company. They have little reason to encourage people to cancel their cable after they can get HBO by itself. Furthermore, they really don’t seem to care about Game of Thrones piracy much at all. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes explains:

“Basically, we’ve been dealing with this issue for years with HBO, literally 20, 30 years, where people have always been running wires down on the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors,” he said. “Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising… If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.”

When you see these sorts of record-breaking piracy numbers, it’s easy to think the end is nigh and HBO will wave the white flag. But I’ve written about this in the past. Even if piracy still exists, the war is essentially won. Most companies have realized that a pirated download does not automatically equal a lost sale. Many of these pirates wouldn’t subscribe to HBO Go even if it was standalone, as piracy is still easy and free. As such, the small number of converts wouldn’t be worth cutting ties between HBO and cable.

Not to say HBO doesn’t care about piracy at all. On torrent sites, HBO shows are constantly flagged and they’re one of the only channels that still sends people letters via their ISPs about illegal activity. I never hear about anyone getting actually fined or sued for piracy, but it’s clear they’re not completely rolling over.

And I won’t say that HBO will never release Go on its own. They’ve already experimented with doing so in some regions, experiments that are still ongoing, and it’s pretty clear to everyone that the bloated cable model is dying a (far too slow) death. It will not be around forever, and HBO is ahead of the game by at least already having a (mostly) functional streaming service like Go that can be spun-off when the time comes for TWC to throw in the towel.

But for now, Game of Thrones suffers an “acceptable” level of piracy that doesn’t really hurt the bottom line for HBO or Time Warner. As I said in my popular piece “You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You,” it’s impossible for one side to completely wipe out the other. Piracy will never be stopped entirely, but neither will piracy take down the movie, television, music or video game industry. It’s just not possible. The “winners” of the piracy war have learned to simply ignore it for the most part, or even embrace it as HBO claims to.

Game of Thrones will be a massive success for likely its entire lifespan, and pirates serve as free marketing, just another group to tell the world how awesome the show is.

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes blog, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broke ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejecte ...
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Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the sout ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in compensat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moh ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocati ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Schem ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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