Did you like watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones, "The Lion and the Rose," where yet another wedding was marred by blood and treachery? So did downloaders - all 1.5 million of them on the first day, alone. According to Hollywood Reporter, "The Lion and the Rose" broke the record for most people sharing a file on BitTorrent simultaneously; 93,418 people were sharing one single torrent within hours of the episode's airing.
As we know, Game of Thrones has also been the most pirated television show for two years in a row. But rather than take a hardline anti-piracy stance, HBO is seemingly unconcerned with their loss of profits - profits that they could be earning by making Game of Thrones available on iTunes (For example, a season pass of HBO's True Blood costs a whopping $46.99).
So why is HBO so blase about losing cash that they could be spending on bonuses and perhaps making more wonderful shows?
HBO has been unconcerned about piracy from the beginning because, according to director David Patrarca (who directed "The Ghost of Harrenhal" and "Garden of Bones") in an NPR interview,
"[Piracy] really helps the show's cultural buzz, and it does not impact the bottom line because HBO has more than enough money to keep making the show.
"So what this is, is, this makes HBO the center of a cultural conversation about illegal downloading, about streaming content, about the production of content and distribution of content, which is probably somewhere they really want to be."
That sounds nice, but tapping into the cultural zeitgeist doesn't pay the rent. Do you know who does? Time Warner.
You see, when viewers pay for HBO, an add-on service, they also have to pay for cable television first. HBO—or rather its parent company Time Warner—is happier with downloading than with the alternative: "Cutting the cord" of subscription services.
According to Pando Daily,
"[N]ot only are they keeping their HBO subscription, but that the customers are also likely paying Time Warner indirectly via CNN, Cartoon Network, and all of Time Warner’s other subsidiaries. That’s something the company — financially speaking — shouldn’t mess with."
So Time Warner would rather have a few, or even a few million, downloaders rather than have viewers give up on cable altogether.
What do you think? Is piracy going to sink Game of Thrones in the long run, or is this more open-minded model the wave of the future?