An article recently published by Forbes shows that Game of Thrones is well on its way to being the most-torrented tv show of 2012. Currently the sixth season of Dexter holds the title, but Thrones is expected to eclipse it well before its season finale in June. As the article reports, the first season of GoT has been torrented a staggering 25 million times, and that number just comes from private trackers- there’s no telling how many more downloads take place off the grid.
But that number is small next to season 2′s figures- the April 30th episode has been downloaded a reported 2.5 million times. One episode. When viewing figures are approximately 4 million, that’s over half of your viewership, just through illegal downloads.
The bigger issue at work here is why the numbers for piracy are so high. Forbes writer Erik Kain, in another article, makes a number of very good points regarding this. First- Game of Thrones is only available on HBO, which is a premium channel that costs more after basic cable (which few enough people want to/can afford to pay for to begin with). Notice that the #1 most downloaded was Dexter? That’s no coincidence. Dexter is a popular show, but what’s really driving the numbers is that Dexter airs on Showtime, another premium network.
Further antagonizing pirates is the lack of legal options for watching the show outside of the original airdate. HBO staved off the release of the bluray and DVD sets for season 1 of GoT until less than a month before the premier of season 2. Obviously this was to drive up anticipation for the second season, but it definitely wasn’t doing the fans of the series any favors. What did they expect people to do for the other 11 months? Naturally, HBO subscribers or not, people turned to torrents for a fast, easy, high-quality and completely free solution. And HBO wonders why pirates love Game of Thrones?
The solution here is so obvious, it simply astounds this reporter that HBO cannot see it. HBO has not responded directly to these numbers, but it really makes you wonder: what can they say? People should just suck it up and pay for premium access in order to watch one show? They don’t offer a lot of alternatives. HBO GO, their mobile service, requires you to be an HBO subscriber to get access, essentially defeating the purpose. In this age of PVR, if you already have a subscription to HBO, it’s not like you’re going to miss the show.
HBO need to start treating their fans like real people who are happy to pay for the content if given the chance, rather than potential pirates. By doing this, HBO is essentially just throwing their profits away and encouraging piracy. Game of Thrones fans would undoubtedly be more than happy to be able to pay to access the show online, and given the figures for the torrents- if HBO charged for it, they would end up making quite a lot of money. Half of their show’s fanbase is an untapped market. Get on it, HBO!
What do you think of this news? Is it right for HBO to be so restrictive with their content? Sound off in the comments!