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And That's Terrible

HBO’s Game of Thrones Is The Most Pirated Television Show Of 2012

Oh god, King Joffrey is going to be SO pissed about this. According to Forbes, HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 2 is going to be the most pirated show this year. Not exactly a title any show wants. 

“With its popularity swelling and no easy way to watch for viewers without cable, HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones is inspiring massive levels of piracy, according to numbers from the BitTorrent-tracking and analysis firm Big Champagne,” writes Forbes. “By the firm’s rough estimate, the second season of the show has been downloaded more than 25 million times from public torrent trackers since it began in early April, and its piracy hit a new peak following April 30th’s episode, with more than 2.5 million downloads in a day.”

John Robinson, a senior media analyst for Big Champagne says it’s too early to tell but the popularity rankings on the download site Pirate Bay mean Game Of Thrones is a favorite. “The fact that it’s consistently at the top of the Pirate Bay’s top one hundred TV show chart seems like a pretty in-your-face leading indicator of the huge volume at which this is being shared,” he said.

Last year, Game of Thrones came in second only to Showtime’s Dexter but this year they consistently have the lead. Forbes makes sure to note the sites they looked at aren’t the only illegal download spots and many are tougher to track.

“While Game of Thrones filesharing rates are probably driven in part by its appeal to the young, geeky male demographic that’s most prone to using torrent sites, HBO hasn’t helped the problem by making the show tough to watch online for the young and cable-less,” writes Forbes. “The show isn’t available through Hulu or Netflix, iTunes offers only Season 1, and using HBO’s own streaming site HBO Go requires a cable subscription.”

“This is absolutely a reaction to the show’s not being available elsewhere online,” said Robinson. “It’s a very tricky game trying to create this kind of scarcity.”

Would it be nice if HBO came up with a legal online viewing option for their network’s properties? Something you didn’t actually have to have cable for but could pay to watch elsewhere? Yes. Should we be blaming them for people stealing their content? No. People pirating is just that. People making the decision not to wait for the show to come to DVD or pay for the privilege to have it in their home. We’ve heard a lot of people have been dropping cable in favor of things like Hulu but just because you choose not to access what’s available to you doesn’t make stealing ok.

It’s interesting to hear the types of reasoning people have for this type of behavior too. Forbes pointed to a Game of Thrones reddit thread where users who have pirated the show, discussed why they did it. A good number of people said they never would have gotten into the show if they hadn’t pirated it first but actually wound up purchasing the DVD after the fact. There’s also some who just want the episode available digitally on their computers but still pay for HBO and buy the discs and international users who have different issues altogether.

Personally, I think one of the biggest issues with piracy of this kind is people want the content immediately. Yes, they could simply wait for the DVD to be released but they don’t because they want it while everyone else is watching it. If they can’t get it instantly by legal means, they’ll get it instantly by illegal means. It honestly makes me concerned for a show like Game of Thrones because their survival depends on HBO subscriptions.

What are your thoughts?

(via Blastr)

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  • Christopher LaHaise

    The question is – if you watch two television shows regularly, is it worth paying $100 a month for the privilege?  For example, ‘my’ shows are Korra (watch on Nick online), The Daily Show (watch on Comedy Central online), Colbert Report (Comedy Central online), Game of Thrones, and Mythbusters.  Is that worth $100 a month to watch two shows four times a month when everything else is online?  The fact that things like Hulu are being altered to force you to have cable subscription is just nuts.  I wouldn’t mind if you were able to pay for only the specific shows you wanted from the cable company, but they’ll never do that.  I’d have signed up with Hulu if it were available in my country – but it isn’t.  This leaves people with very few options if they want to be able to talk with people about current programming.

  • Brenton Poke

    “Oh god, King Joffrey is going to be SO pissed about this. According to Forbes, HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 2 IS GOING TO BE the most pirated show this year”

    Ok, this article misled with the title, and worse, used FORBES as a primary source.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    As of right now, it is the most pirated show of the year, and on track to stay that way.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree with stealing, but the show costs more to rent, than it does to buy the DVDs.

  • Kimberly

    Amen, and this is the reason I can’t justify it either. I’d gladly fork over some cash to just watch specific shows, as long as it wasn’t so expensive. I’m in Canada, so Hulu is out, and Netflix is so far behind that it’s not even worth mentioning.

    I’m one of the ones that never would have been able to even see the show much less buy the first season boxset (which I did) if I hadn’t been able to watch it on the sly.

    I’ll be buying season 2 as soon as it’s released as well. I love my extras, and I very much want to support the people making this show. It’s a pity they aren’t letting us buy these on iTunes like other shows do, or I’d be doing that instead. I’d RATHER do that, to be honest. :P

  • John Wao

    I guess this falls under the heading of good news/bad news…

  • Charlie
  • Haley L.

    I don’t really condone pirating, but at the same time I think that TV companies need to come up with a way to allow people to watch their shows online (and monetize it). The internet is a huge driving factor in stuff becoming popular these days. It’s something like a virtual water cooler, except you’re not confined to your coworkers–if you speak the same language, you can talk to ANYBODY about popular show X now. The internet only helps to encourage the kind of buzz that networks and executives (I assume) want for their shows.

    I’ve been saying since I was a kid that it makes more sense to pay for the channels or shows you want rather than being forced to buy cable package deals. I think a proper online service should allow you to do just that, and I used to believe that they DID. The harder you make it for people to consume your product, the more likely they are to turn to piracy. (And vice-versa–for example, Valve got a lot of success in pirating-heavy Russia by listening to the frustrations of the Russian market and responding to them by making their Russian localizations better and making it easier to get their games.) The technology is here to give the consumer what they want–if businesses don’t work to provide it, people will turn elsewhere for entertainment. Not just through pirating, but also to other products and mediums (IE, the rise of video gaming and social media).

    I’m not saying that people SHOULD pirate (and I think piracy often only works against us in this sort of case), I’m just saying that I think there’s a better way to screen TV shows these days. There’s an anime streaming site called Crunchyroll that I think has a great set-up: if you don’t want to pay, you can watch a show a week after it comes out at a lower quality with commercials. If you want to watch it right away, you pay $7 for a subscription–with the added bonus of better quality video and no commercials. Anime’s a niche product with a smaller budget, so this exact model probably wouldn’t work for big-budget shows from Hollywood, but there’s probably a way to modify that model to work for a site like Hulu. Maybe a higher subscription cost and a small commercials even if you’re a subscriber. Crunchyroll was able to become profitable while Hulu was still struggling with their model.

    Even if they don’t take on Crunchyroll’s model, it’d be good for the people behind American TV to examine how they can use new technologies to help, instead of hurt, their industry. Change is already happening, and refusing to evolve is going to do nothing but hurt.

    I feel like a broken record. I’m pretty sure I’m only saying what other people have already said. But that makes this even more frustrating. I shouldn’t HAVE to continually repeat myself! The market is telling the entertainment industry what we want–why aren’t they listening?!


  • Brenton Poke

     I think your issue is the issue most people have. It seems as though the rest of the market is going in the direction that people have been asking, while HBO is being stubborn while still complaining about piracy. Sure, piracy is stealing, but it’s difficult to feel sorry for HBO when other media companies have found ways to deal with it that gives everybody what they want while HBO tries it’s hardest to keep people from watching it. They don’t get my sympathy because they’re being idiots.

    I recently watched – and finished – Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing entirely online through Funimation’s simulcast, meaning it aired on their site using Hulu at the same time episodes were being aired in Japan. Original language with subtitles, all for free. Crunchy Roll does the same thing with simulcasted anime, but impose a week-long delay on the latest episode for free users – you have to pay for true simulcasting.

    This is no small deal, because a lot of us in the anime-watching community wondered if this would ever catch on like it has. We figured they would have to, but didn’t expect free options to be available so soon. That’s how you evolve. You listen to what your customers want and find a way to do it fairly. HBO has nobody to blame but themselves. Everybody else has figured out how to handle this, why can’t they?

  • oaktree

    I’ll second Haley L.’s comment, and add that this kind of sanctimonious moralizing just makes me want to torrent more. Ah, HBO, your rage is delicious.

  • Anonymous

     I am pretty sure having the title “most pirated show of the year” is also good marketing in the end.

  • Amphigorey

    Oh, pish. Most people would buy it if they could. HBO makes it hard for people to give them money, so people pirate instead. HBO is refusing to change, so they’re losing a huge profit stream for their foolishness.

  • Amanda M. Ramsey

    Make it more available! *sigh*

  • Amanda M. Ramsey

    Also, people want access to content at the same time as people who have cable or an HBO subscription. None of this, putting the episode online for streaming a day later. NO…. people don’t want to wait that long. I know it sounds selfish but I think making the content available at the same time as it airs would cut down on a lot of pirating.

  • Kimberly

    Heck, even using Crunchyroll’s model and have it show up days or even a week later would help with this problem. I mean, HOW long did it take for season 1 to hit iTunes/Amazon? Really?

  • Anonymous

    The problem here is that premium commercial free cable networks like HBO can’t easily monetize web content, because they are funded by cable companies paying to sell their services. That’s why they can include all the cussing and sex they want without worrying about advertisers. (And while it’s not the primary reason I enjoy HBO shows, the freedom of content allows for better creativity, in my opinion.) And it’s also those cable company fees that fund ultra expensive shows like Game of Thrones. I hate to break it to y’all, but HBO programming is premium for a reason, and there are some things that you just can’t legally get for free. 

  • Anonymous

    A GREED.  I will happily throw and have happily thrown my money at Game of Thrones because it’s brilliant and well produced.  I think if the industry LET us throw our money at them, not only would they have money and we have what we want, but it’d give them a better idea of which of their shows were shit, which seems like something they struggle with now.

  • Kimberly

    The problem is, most of the people who are unhappy with HBO’s setup would gladly pay for GoT (or just HBO), they just can’t justify paying so much for tons of not-HBO channels that they’ll likely never watch.

    To use a gym analogy, it’s like asking a person to buy a membership for 10 different gyms in order to actually use any of them at all. If you don’t get all 10, you get none. What if you only wanted to use one particular gym? You’re out of luck.

  • Jennifer Lopez

    I think it’s a stupid move business wise for cable companies to continue to rely on just cable customers alone. The internet is obviously where their customers are, and their customers want their content whether they pay for it or not. The whole if you don’t build it, they won’t come thing doesn’t work here. Customers don’t play by others rules anymore. Either make what they want available to them now or they will find other ways to get what they want and you will be the loser. Simple as that.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    On the one hand, piracy, wrong, blah blah blah.

    On the other hand, at some point HBO has to come to terms with the fact that the market has spoken. If they can’t figure out a way to make money off 2.5 million people who want to download their show every week, tough.

    Time and time again it’s been shown that people WILL pay for online content. All you have to do is sell it.

    I’d throw some money to HBO, but they’ve got to meet me halfway.

  • Anonymous

    Not even going to try to justify piracy and I don’t condone it but try being outside of the US where there is no HBO Go option.

    When it screens in the US people scream on Twitter “Don’t post spoilers” and yet once they’ve seen it they post spoilers and as us outside the US don’t have any option but to have the show spoiled for us unless we stay off the internet altogether.

    The technology exists to make this available to a larger audience but these companies refuse to use it in a way where they could make more money, especially for international audiences that wait weeks or months for the episodes.

  • kejsarinna astrid

    Well… as a Swede I can’t access it legally, until the DVDs come or SVT decides to air it. And in today’s world I want to be able to discuss the show only hours after it’s been aired. If it wasn’t for the fact that I could watch my fav shows as soon as I can these days, sites like this wouldn’t be interesting, as I would probably not even go looking for reviews of the episodes months after (or a year, which used to be the timeline for American tv-shows to get to Sweden). If they could come up with something like Spotify but for tv-shows I wouldn’t mind paying for it at all.

    The problem isn’t that I don’t want to pay for it; I can’t. And if I should wait for the DVDs, I might just as well wait for the channel that I pay my tax money for to air it. So then I wouldn’t buy the DVDs anyway.

  • Valériane Duvivier

    I’m French. 
    First season of Game of Thrones is not even in project here.If I don’t download them, I have to wait for the DVD.
    Same for Korra, Walking dead and half others series on TV.
    So how I am supposed to watch game of throne? Tumblr’s gif?
    So yeah, I download.
    And the DVD are on my amazon list, to be bought as soon as I can.
    The other option is not downloading, not watching and not buying cause I ain’t going to pay for something I’m not sure I’ll like.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Somebody’s getting their fingers chopped off.

  • Kristin M.

    Actually, I think it’s a lot more like walking into a restaurant, and they ask you to pay for every option on the menu. They know you can’t possibly eat it all, but they say they need to be able to buy quality ingredients and pay their staff and fund marketing, right? 

    (Also, carry out isn’t allowed and they will not ship out special orders.)

  • Anonymous

    If I could buy every episode on iTunes as it aired I would. As it stands, my mom had HBO so I just waited until I got home to watch it.  Still, I WANT to give HBO my money and they’re like “No, thank you. Please buy a TV, basic cable and then purchase our premium channel for the 10 weeks of program you really want to watch.” That’s unrealistic.

  • Sarah

    I don’t have HBO so I couldn’t watch Game of Thrones unless I streamed it illegally online. First I checked Hulu and but no legal means of streaming.

    Honestly with all the content HBO is putting out right now, if they offered an online streaming for $5-7 a month, I’d pay for it. HBO is shooting themselves in the foot by NOT distributing online in some way.

  • Anonymous

    People pirate it because HBO doesn’t let you watch online or on a console unless you have a cable subscription, which means you have a cable package that includes HBO since cable providers don’t let you get a channel without a package of other channels you don’t watch. HBO GO is completely useless, if they offered just HBO GO for PC or a console, some people might actually pay for it. Piracy is so rampant because companies make it easier to pirate than to legitimately purchase…I WOULD pirate a car if it were possible and easier than buying a car.

  • Kate

    As you said, piracy is never really excused. However, in the current media environment, content producers who do not provide a legal way to access their content (apart from DVDs) are simply going to have to adjust for piracy. It’s not going away. Stricter laws won’t, and probably can’t, stop it. Instead of fighting piracy, companies should reach a hand out to these fans. Put shows online with commercial support. Charge a reasonable fee per episode on a NON-platform specific medium. Non-region-locked. Something, anything. Those fans are people who could be giving them more income and instead of embracing them, companies seem dead set against giving people more “excuses” for piracy. Yes, a small number of people will still pirate it, but I’d bet that a larger number would be happy to go through legal channels. 

  • Anonymous

    Damn true. I just bit the bullet and started paying for HBO simply so I could watch GOF, but I was seriously pissed that I had to foot the bill for all these other crappy channels I didn’t want. So yeah, your right. They should organize it like Netflix, where you can get 3 dvds at a time or just streaming. Although I still think their would be a good amount of people who won’t be happy until it’s free.

  • Lauren Detherage

    Isn’t the ENTIRE POINT of making a show to get people to WATCH them? I’d be THRILLED if I
    made a show that was so beloved that 2.5 million people a day wanted to
    see it! But they’re so in it for the money all that they can think is
    “lots of people love seeing our show! HOW CAN WE STOP THEM?” 

  • brett caton

    HBO exists to make a profit to return dividends to it’s shareholders. Somewhere along the line, people made the decision that instead of selling the product to consumers, they would try to force them into the pre-internet channels at any cost. Objectively, they’ve sacrificed GoT sales in the cause of their stupidity, and should be sacked. 

    You can debate the morality of copyright infringement (and keep in mind US law is hardly universal), but as a cold hard business decision, this effectively promoted piracy to the point where it only makes sense if this had really been their plan from the start! Was it that the executives were all geriatric technophobes? Were they kept hermetically sealed from external information?

    And in answer to those who say just wait and buy optical media, yes, if this was the 1990s, that might make sense; but in this century, people want to see things *now*, they don’t want compulsory unskippable rubbish stealing their time, they don’t want to risk having some attention seeking troll post spoilers and ruining the story for them (“Cerys bonks Joffrey! Haha, should have said spoilers! All hail my clever antics!”). They don’t want shelves full of things that only work on one device.

    DRM means trying to move your movies from optical onto your laptop or tablet so you can watch it as you travel is a crime, and yet that’s become a huge part of the experience. I see ppl on the train watching movies as they travel; i doubt many of them are using the power hungry antique optical media that has to be swapped in and out, that gets scratched or dropped or lost..

  • brett caton
  • Lola Arcana

    The music industry had to update when they had this problem. If the TV and film industries can not update their business model they know whats going to happen to them. If you live outside of the chosen countries they’re showing in then the only way to get Game of thrones is piracy.  Not to mention if cable isn’t available in your area.

    If they want to make money it’s all about supply and demand. They are failing to supply enough for the demand – this is their loss.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer
    This is a good read, and really kind of explains the root of the problem. Not just this problem, but most problems.

  • Addie/Annie D

    I’m the type of person who wants to see what this certain “IT” thing of the year first before buying. While season 1 may have just been released in Australia, season 2 is only available on cable at the moment and one cannot afford cable (unless I miraculously become wealthy overnight). 

    Most of the time I do wait for DVD releases because I rely on subtitles quite often but I hate being out of the loop because of this reason. 

  • Anonymous

    HA!!  Piles of money left on the table because these stupid old men have their heads in the sand.   I’d like to offer that this is a perfect reason why piracy can be excused.   I submit that the world has changed.  It’s known that any company that wishes to survive and be profitable must change with it. 

    The old ways are dying if they’re not already dead.   People (like me) who work and like filmed entertainment will pay for a good premium product  – but you have to make it available directly to us.  Not through some retarded package deal that involves you paying for a bunch of crappy stations that you’ll never watch or listen to. 

    For years media companies have made untold hundreds of millions of dollars selling to over seas markets.   Flighting out release dates months or years after a show has run in the US.

    But this thing called the internet – it allows people to communicate and get information instantly.   And if something is really really good and cool and fun to watch… people in other countries don’t want to wait until some Hollywood douche bag randomly decides to sell it to the rest of world ( you guys get it this month, then you 2 months later, and we’ll get to you next year….)

    Times have changed and these guys have to change or yes, piracy will bring down the whole house.   Maybe you won’t make as much money as before or you’ll make the same but it will take a year longer.   Hard decisions and a hard job to do… but this is the world right now and it’s not going back to the way it was.   So change.  

    I don’t have cable, so right now HBO gets $0 from me.  If HBO Go was open and $20/mth, for just their originals (shows and movies) they’d be getting $240 a year from me.   And after reading the other notes below, there are others who will pay for this too.  

    So HBO… here’s my money – take it – please.

  • Anonymous

    you won’t be forced to have cable to watch Hulu.   That’s bullshit.

  • Owen Hunter

    just because they realize that they can reel us in with shows like this and make us pay ridiculous prices for cable and HBO which costs next to nothing to operate compared to what we make doesn’t make that okay either. I support video piracy to a certain degree because its telling these companies that they are in over their heads. does anybody actually remember the last time that a ticket to the movies to see a new release was affordable and less than 8 dollars plus all the overpriced popcorn and shit? To me I think its a problem when you got movies raking in 700 million dollars and 8 billion dollar franchises. it amazes me how these movies aand tv shows and cable companies are doing so well in a time of economic collapse. They havent lowered their prices so that more viewers can enjoy what they have to offer. If anything they have raised the prices, which is an insult to the many who want to watch but cannot afford to do so. These companies are well aware of the fact that if they reduced their prices they would possibly obtain more viewers but their mindset is so stuck on making a insanely ridiculous profit off of us and laughing their way to the bank that they wont budge. Piracy stemmed from all of this.

  • Owen Hunter

    oh and their arrogant enough to ignore the possibilities that the internet offer because they know no one wants to pay more than 15 dollars a month for their services. to them thats nothing compared to the millions that cable companies give them plus the extra 15 that they make off of every subscriber

  • Jill Pantozzi
  • Jill Pantozzi

    As much as I empathize with your position, because I know it sucks to get spoiled for things, I think what you’ve laid out here is one of the biggest reasons for pirating content. People want the content IMMEDIATELY, no waiting. You said it yourself, you could wait for it to come on DVD, that would be legal, but a lot of people simply don’t feel like waiting that long. As I said, I can totally understand where you and others are coming from, but I think it’s a bad reason to steal.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    What about just waiting for the dvd?

  • Jill Pantozzi

    All you say is true, but all the ideas we spew out aren’t going to do anything until, like many have said, they come up with better ideas. But what you said, “content producers who do not provide a legal way to access their content (apart from DVDs),” is what always bugs me about piracy excuses. People CAN access the dvds, they just have to wait for them. They’d rather do something illegal than wait a few months for entertainment. It’s such a weird thing for me to wrap my head around. 

  • Jill Pantozzi

    I’ve seen that strip. Nowhere on it does it even acknowledge that the person could just wait and buy or rent the dvd when it’s available. It’s all about RIGHT NOW. Which, believe me, I get, I just think that option is ignored or deemed out of the question for those who pirate.

  • Joshua R. Kern

    Simple solution: sell individual episodes for $2, direct download from HBO, playable only with a proprietary codec and/or player software. But they would rather cling desperately to the cable that nobody wants in the first place. Embrace the new medium idiots.

  • Joshua R. Kern

    Seriously. The internet has given you a global market with zero logistical costs. We’re talking instant delivery to your customers ANYWHERE IN THE FUCKING WORLD! HBO needs to get with the times and embrace the Hulu/Netflix paradigm.

  • Being Geek Chic

    Unpopular opinion time…

    I’m a cable subscriber who pays $60 a month for channels I only watch once per week. (woot, Sherlock and Design Star!) I then pay an additional $16 for HBO, which I watch 5 times per week. That’s a grand total of $76 per month divided by 27 episodes of my favorite shows (5 on HBO, one on HGTV, one on PBS) for a grand total of $2.81 per episode. (I won’t even factor in that my boyfriend watches all these shows with me, so it effectively cuts our costs in half.) I am happy to pay this premium because I know that these programs cost a ton to make. The production budget for Game of Thrones or an episode of Sherlock is on par with your average Hollywood movie. 

    Why do I hand over my hard-earned money for my cable subscription each month? First, because I think it’s entirely fair that a person who is PAYING GOOD MONEY to watch something first should be able to watch it before people who don’t want to pay for it. Second, I can’t help but notice the similarities between the models many of you suggest and the destruction of the newspaper industry (where I started my career). The news industry has been destroyed by the proliferation of “free content” because of the web. Yes, I enjoy the fact that I can read my local paper online, but anyone who believes that the quality of reporting hasn’t declined is kidding themselves. Reporting positions that used to be career highs (paying 60-70K) are now going to fresh out of J-school kids with nothing more than an internship and mounds of student debt at a salary of 26-30K, depending on the market. I can’t help but see the similarities between this and the proliferation of shite reality television shows which are cheap to make to fill up the Bravos, Style Networks and TLCs of the cable world. And if you think the New York Times has the answer because of their paywall, you’re wrong there too, because sites like the Huffington Post can now win a Pulitzer for aggregating that content and offering it up for free.

    As a professional content producer, you have essentially turned my career into the dollar menu at McDonald’s. We are addicted to cheap, cheap, cheap in this country and we’re destroying our economy and the livelihoods of many different professionals in the process.

    Would hardcore gamers EVER demand that their newest console game be priced at .99 because the iPhone has cheap games?

    … At this point, I’ll stop, because I’m bitter and I know.

  • Cynthia Bouldrick

    HBO should consider releasing the DVDs earlier.  I know everyone is talking about people wanting content immediately, but I don’t see HBO’s point in making people without a cable subscription wait almost a YEAR to see the show.  I could wait tile the end of the season to see all of the episodes, that’s not an issue, but season 1 didn’t come out until March of this year.  Can someone explain this to me?  Because I honestly feel like this would help with the problem (help, not fix it totally, some people are always going to pirate, no matter what).

  • Jemma Prophet

    Or the third model, where a series is downloaded initially and then purchased as soon as it’s available on disk. It’s what most of my friends and family do, if they like a series. The issue is the artificially imposed delay on disk production — there’s no physical reason that a series couldn’t be fully available on disk a few weeks after the finale aired, especially shows like HBO’s originals, which are all fully produced and completed before they begin airing.

    The gist of it is that the customers and the markets clearly have expectations which are currently not being met; trying to artificially impose market restrictions like forced bundling, production delays, etc, and then justifying it with a hazy morality at best is 1) not working and 2) irritating people who would otherwise be your most loyal and prolific customers.

    If people want your product, and they want it badly to risk cable throttling and ISP takedowns and viruses — for god’s sake. Give it to them. :D They aren’t going to stop, and you’re just throwing money away. 

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Crunchyroll’s model sounds a lot like Hulu Plus. It’s $9 a month and new shows are available within 12 hours or so. It’d be nice to be able to watch stuff sooner, especially since people post spoilers all over Twitter and Tumblr, but it’s certainly a tolerable lag for the price.

    Not all shows are available like this, unfortunately. If I really want to see a show, I’ll get it off iTunes, where episodes are generally available after midnight on the airdate. iTunes is more expensive up front, but you’re purchasing the episodes, not just getting access to a stream. I only use that for shows I know I’ll rewatch (like Legend of Korra).

    And then there are shows like Game of Thrones, where there are no options to legally purchase or view it if you don’t already pay a huge monthly bill for cable. It’s an attempt to force the outdated cable model to stay afloat for a bit longer, but it isn’t going to work forever.

  • Toranosuke

    I can appreciate the argument that people are being selfish and needy by being unable or unwilling to wait for the DVDs, and I don’t mean to condone or justify piracy…

    But, I would like to just point out that the “choice” to have cable or not have cable is not a choice that everyone has. I live in a dorm building that chooses not to provide HBO. And there’s no cable hookup or whatever in the individual rooms for me to pay for and buy HBO if I wanted to (though, I wonder if I could pay for it just to get access to the HBO GO online site…). Let’s not pretend that everyone has their own private apartment or house where they have the free choice to purchase or not purchase an HBO subscription… Many people turn to the Internet for their TV watching precisely because they don’t have the option of watching it on an actual TV. Living overseas would be another example…

  • Anonymous

    But by the time the DVDs come out, the gifs will be posted all over the place, entertainment websites will assume you’ve seen the shows and spoilers lurk everywhere. I watch most of my stuff on Hulu Plus and iTunes, so I only have a day’s delay, and I still get spoiled sometimes, no matter how much I try to avoid it. 

    Plus, if you’re watching it on a long delay, you’re left out of all the discussions and speculations, which for me is a huge part of entertainment. I don’t want to consume in a vacuum. I want to discuss, analyze, criticize, create fanworks, consume fanworks and make virtual squeeing noises or vent outrage with other fans.

    Watching shows a few months later isn’t just a test of patience; it’s a totally different experience.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh. That’d be better than not being available at all, I suppose, but that kind of extreme DRM might make it difficult to actually watch the episodes.

  • Anonymous

     Jill.  You picked this up from the NY Post like everyone else.  It’s dead on bullshit.

  • Anonymous

     You  could have always gone and watched it at a friend’s place or just streamed it from a safe site.

  • Anonymous

     Haley, HBO is owned by Time Warner, which owns a huge  cable service.  They want people to buy cable.  The only way they’ll listen is if more people drop cable.  People will buy true premium content like HBO, but it’s against their greater interest – which is to prop up the cable system service.    

    Services like Hulu, Netflix, Crunchroll and Crackle show that there’s an audience for premium content – and that that audience is willing to pay.  Don’t know what you mean about hulu struggling – they have more traffic than most others.  Set the price right, don’t pull any stunts, include past content and you’ll make more money.   There will always be some asshole who’ll put it up for free, but over time people will go with quality, as long as the price is right.

  • Alexander Hooley

    What else am I supposed to do? I am young, geeky, have been a massive Ice and Fire fan since I was twelve, love GoT…and live in Britain. The only way to watch GoT here as it’s broadcast is to subscribe to a Sky channel, which I’m not going to do for the sake of one TV show. I’m going to buy the DVD when it comes out anyway, but I’m not prepared to wait a full year.

    So if you’re listening, HBO, I and many others are perfectly willing to pay for GoT. You just make it very hard for us to give you our money.

  • Angelina Robin

    The show isn’t available through Hulu or Netflix.

  • Maja Covic

    Allow a counter example.

    I make enough money not to worry about choices like full-package cable and I still pirate. You know why? Because I’m not giving a dime for non-stop of Big Brother, ESPN-16 or aliens on *History* channel.

    I have a screen, an internet connection, pay-pal and a bank account comfortably in the black. If HBO wants to sell GOT to me, they can do it this instant. But I’m not buying anything on the side.

    Even if they managed to kill piracy, they still wouldn’t get my money. Not under this model. There are truckloads of SF&F novels I could pass my time reading just as pleasantly.

    And no artificial scarcity either, thank you -  no DVD regions, DRMs, delayed releases or geo-locking.

    If Google and VIVO can deliver a steaming service with personalized adds, so can HBO. If Good Old Games can sell infinitely-downloadable, non-DRM, play-wherever-you-want content, so can HBO. If they can both do it anywhere short of North Korea and turn a profit, so can HBO.

    They don’t want to? That’s their problem.

    Take care

  • Anonymous

     I was going to reply to Jill somewhere, but this said it better than I could.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    If you have evidence to the contrary, feel free to link it.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Right, and like I said, I absolutely get that. But it bothers me when people yell about not having any legal options when there is one, they would just rather not wait for it for the reasons you mentioned.

  • Dale P

    I would happily pay HBO’s subscription fee on top of my Hulu Plus and Netflix. Add Showtime and AMC to that. I find it unfair and very short-sighted that they are still forcing me to pay for cable for the privilege.

    Everyone is saying it: people WANT to pay for content, they just don’t want to be beholden to slimebags like Comcast to do it.

  • ShifterCat

    Even if that’s not true — and you’ve yet to post any evidence — there’s still the fact that Hulu doesn’t work for those of us outside the U.S.

  • Kam Gates

    I hope the survival of Game of Thrones factors in DVD and Blu-ray sales as well. Speaking strictly of legal options, limiting the ways we can watch current episodes means many of us are going to choose not to watch it live on HBO. I can (and did) buy the Blu-ray of season 1 for less than what one months cable bill with HBO would have cost.

  • Anonymous

    Part of it is that television is not just about television content – it’s social. Talking about it is one of the major facets to watching anything on tv – deconstructing and sharing fannish glee are some of the best parts. And waiting for the DVD often means you miss out on those discussions.

  • jayjayjay

    I’m Canadian, and a university student who lives at home with my parents while studying and therefore has no input in whether or not my house gets HBO. Spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find Game of Thrones online, somewhere legal, where I could watch it. Couldn’t, and gave up – still haven’t watched the show. Bad as HBO’s distribution policy within the United States is, it’s a thousand times worse internationally.

    I already have a Netflix subscription, and I’d have no problem with paying to access a streaming site to watch Game of Thrones (and other HBO shows!), but HBO Go is simply not available to people outside of the States; if you don’t pay to get HBO on television, or you miss an episode, you’re SoL. It’s ridiculous.

    You’re expected to jump through a thousand hoops if you want to watch the show legally and sometimes, after said hoops have been jumped, you’re still told, “too bad, the answer’s no.” And then, if it’s possible to obtain the same content illegally at the click of a button, well. I can see why this is a problem. 

    I would happily pay to watch Game of Thrones at the same time as everybody else, but I simply can’t. I wish I were surprised that so many people have pirated this material, but really, I’m not. I’m willing to bet most of them are international! Piracy isn’t going away any time soon, so unless HBO adjusts their distribution model, I can foresee them having some serious problems.

  • Anonymous

    Read between the lines…..  the company never said it, just a reporter said it.   It’s a lie.   People have been saying lies about them for years and nothing has ever been true.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    It won’t let me reply to your last post because the thread has gotten too long.

    The reporter had an un-named source at the company eho told them what they reported. Hulu said it themselves to Techcrunch (also quoted in the article I linked), that they weren’t interested in being the first to do it, not that they were never going to do it.

    You don’t have to believe it will happen down the road, with the information I have, I do.

  • Kate

    My concern is more financial. When DVDs come out in box sets for $70 for one season there will be a large proportion of the population who simply cannot afford it. I know *I* don’t have and extra $70 hanging around to blow on a program that I may or may not enjoy. 

  • Aurélien Thomas

    The fact is that piracy is the only way to watch the show for non-americans (or wait 6 months/a year for DVD/Blu-Ray).
    As a french, I can wait months for an audio translation I don’t want, or 2 days to find a torrent link of a subtitled episode, IN HD.

  • unak

    What’s crazy about that is that HBO Go, thier online streaming site, isn’t even available to Time Warner customer who are PAYING for HBO.  So I’m sitting here paying the same price for HBO as a guy who has Direct TV yet not getting the same service.  HOW IS THAT FAIR?  TW is the same company yet can’t provide IT’S OWN SUBSCRIBERS with HBO Go.  I can’t even pay for it if I were so inclined.  

    But I can’t switch bc my apartment pays for my basic cable subscription and it wouldn’t make sense to pay more to switch to another provider.  

  • Better Nation

    Please HBO!  Change your marketing ways!  Your shows are amazing, but people are NOT going to wait for the dvd to come out.  I purchased season on on dvd and it has been killing me to wait for season 2.  Make the episodes available the next day after they air on the likes of Amazon instant video or itunes.  The walking dead did this and I PAID because I wanted the season pass.  Your company is perfectly capable of doing this.  And for a network like HBO it is adapt or die, people in there 20′s are not going to buy cable.

  • Robert

    Piracy isn’t classified as stealing, it’s classified as copyright infringement in most law suits (they are losing out on potential sales.) The problem is that these days it becomes a choice of: have something spoiled for you the moment it airs, or avoid the internet entirely. People want content immediately because we no longer live in a world where a show can be broadcast in one country and another country can get it unspoiled a year later. While the online model does not cancel out piracy it does show that most people are willing, and want to, pay for their content: something HBO is apparently unwilling to adapt to (look how long it took them to put Game of Thrones Season 1 on I-tunes, and even then it was still a huge seller.)
    If they made individual shows available to rent for some like $2-5, within a week of the broadcast they’d stand to make a profit- without damaging their cable audience (they would still get the content first.)
    Other networks and other countries are adapting to similar method in order to counteract piracy (in Australia most over-sea’s programs now air within 48 hours of their initial broadcast, while a couple of years ago you would have to wait six months after the initial broadcast)- the internet has made everything instantaneous: you can no longer expect people to accept waiting as a viable alternative when waiting tends to involve having the content spoiled for them: there is a market there, willing to pay, HBO needs to work out a way to supply this market while making a profit, rather than continuing with out of date methods.

  • Pedro G. Dias

    I’m waiting to buy it on blu-ray still, but it’s FAR too long to wait. HBO is loosing a lot of money by not making it available on bluray right away (and yes, bluray is still MILES ahead of any pirated file, plus, foreign subscribers will want it for the subtitles.

  • Nicole Jaime

    Yeah seriously, why would people buy cable just so we can buy HBO. I don’t want all that other crap on TV I just want to watch Game of Thrones. But I don’t pirate, as much as I want to see my movies, I reread the books until my dvd’s come out.

  • James Smith

    I thought about this and as a American living overseas for the time being, it would be awesome to have a decent online option.
    But would it be profitable for someone like HBO to release content online?
    Say they release GoT online for a country like Japan. If it’s popular, they COULD make some money, but would it be better than getting an actual licensing deal with a local media company? And if they released it online first, but wasn’t getting the right coverage or making enough profits, local companies would probably not want to pick it up after that, as most of the core market would have already seen it.

    It would be nice if I could access live channels over the internet (like if DirecTV hosted their complete channel lineup in an online format), but its just wishful thinking I guess.

  • Michael M

    Basic channels are like $20. Extra channels such as disney, discovery etc, another $30-$50. Add HBO $20, but then you got to get the dvr which is another $10 all so you can watch your one show. It is not like you can pick and choose, if you want HBO you have to get the dvr and the other 2 channel packs. I pirate my shows simply because I have no other way to access them and I am not going to throw $80 a month for tv that I don’t watch. On top of the $30 a month I already pay for internet and another $8 for netflix streaming, services that I actually use. I would pay a modest monthly subscription fee for online HBO.

  • Kelly
  • Ryan Heath

    Just put it on I-tunes like you did with season 1. I caught one show on HBO while in a Hotel room (we don’t have HBO at home) and I wanted more. So I bought an episode from Itunes. Then another, then I just bought the whole season. I love this show, and unlike most I won’t steel it, but you are not doing your honest fans any favors by making it so damn hard to come by.

  • Eric Morgan

    My conscience is clear. I only watch shows through digital streaming or download outlets. I consistently run into these problems with shows such as Misfits, Sherlock, Skins, Primeval and occasionally Dr Who. I will gladly pay for the BBC’s iPlayer app when they make it available in the United States; and if the option is available I will pay a premium to download shows earlier. One of the great things about UK based programming is that after a season has ended, the dvd will be available within the month. I even own a region free player and I often order the region 2/B copies in advance. As for American programming, I refuse to wait six months for itunes availability or a year for the DVD release. I make my own tv schedule. I always make digital copies for my personal use anyway. So, no; as a person that always purchases my favorite shows on DVD, I will not be guilted because premium television companies don’t want to join the rest of us in the new millennium.

  • Jay Schneider

    This article is pretty lame…from a business standpoint. The truth is, some exec at HBO should be fired for mishandling the show. HBO’s “strategy”, if you can call it that, is a catastrophe to fans, actors, and the network itself.
    The piracy issue is only significant when viewed as a function of HBO’s attitude and lost revenue. Shareholders should demand nothing less than the termination of the executives who screwed this up — and HBO should consider this a “lesson learned”.
    The market is color blind and it will find a way.

  • Rebecca Fryer

    I’ve had Game of Thrones Season 2 Blu-Ray box set on pre-order for months now. Just how long does it take to put on to a set of discs?

    No wonder it’s being pirated to much! If HBO think they can drag out the release until Christmas then people are going to get frustrated. I’m willing to pay for the originals but my patience is growing thin with these wanton delays.

  • Amrit

    I don’t have HBO in Canada and don’t plan on getting it anytime soon, so yeah, I pirate the episodes when they come out. But just because people pirate the show, it doesn’t mean they won’t end up spending money to support the show. When I was introduced to the show last year, I was blown away and immediately ordered the first season on blu-ray. I am about to order the second season as we speak, and am also looking in to buying the books and the official soundtrack.

    Just because it is being pirated, it doesn’t automatically mean lost money (like some people may think). If it wasn’t for piracy, I would never have been able to see this show, and would probably never be aware of it..

  • Toni

    HBO would make a heck of alot more money buy allowing people to subscribe to individual shows. In doing this, it would easily allow for them to know which shows are worth keeping and which are hopless money sinkers.

    They have a golden opportunity to get ahead of the game in the online market, but their executives are so ass-backwards and so set in their ways they would sooner punish their audience then acknowledge it.

    What do you do with people who get in the way of their own success? You let them fail miserably! Here’s an original concept of free market: why not give answer the need in the market? That’s how Adam Smith did it, but instead HBO harbors the communist subscription idea: collectively pay for everything, including crap you don’t want to see.