We give HBO a lot of credit for some of the steps that they took in an effort to reduce “Game of Thrones” piracy to the best of their ability. They introduced HBO NOW to give as many viewers as possible the chance to watch the show without an enormous cable package, and they also tried their best to simulcast the show around the globe at times, giving people more opportunities to tune in live.
However, the show has easily won (yet again) a trophy that you don’t necessarily want to win: TorrentFreak’s most-pirated show of the year honor. With over 14 million illegal downloads of the season 5 finale alone, this series blew every other one out of the water. For a single episode “The Walking Dead” was in second with 6.9 million, while “The Big Bang Theory” was in third with 4.4 million. Of the top ten, two were new shows: “Mr. Robot” at #6 (with 3.5 million) and “Supergirl” at #8 (with 3 million).
“Game of Thrones” also has the distinction of being one of only three shows in the top ten who were pirated more than the average viewer count for an episode. “Mr. Robot,” which isn’t that surprising given the show’s subject matter and audience, and another USA hit in “Suits” joined it in that category. Now that these shows do get more viewers in DVR and legal online measures, and this may shift the figures in a different direction.
Ultimately, being at the center of such piracy will continue to be a double-edged sword for HBO. While it does show that interest in their show remains high (which is always good), you have to find ways to reach out to this crowd and convince them to potentially pay for content that they were getting for free using less-than-legal means.
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