Just How Much Do Shows Like Game Of Thrones Owe To Piracy?

from the more-than-they-like-to-admit,-I-suspect dept

The HBO show Game of Thrones has become something of a symbol for TV piracy as a response to lack of availability, ever since it was used as an example in a comic by Matthew Inman (which was then reprised as a post by MG Siegler, minus the jokes). This is probably because it’s ridiculously addictive (once you start watching, there’s no way you’re going to stop before someone stabs that Joffrey kid). This month the second season began, and after all the criticisms of their distribution scheme, HBO accidentally threw frustrated online viewers a bone by leaking the second episode nearly a week ahead of schedule—someone working on the Dutch edition of HBO Go must have accidentally flipped a switch, and winter came early. But before that happened, the season premier aired to a massive ratings jump, which most people anticipated. Why? Because, they reasoned, the nine-month gap between seasons gave new viewers a chance to catch up with (and get hooked on) the series by watching season one on HBO On Demand and HBO Go.

It’s a good theory, but only some are prepared to mention the elephant in the room: plenty of people (quite possibly the majority) caught up through unauthorized streams and torrents, just like Matthew Inman. And that brings us to the bigger elephant lurking in the whole house: how much has piracy contributed to the rise of HBO-style television? Would we have complex, high-concept, critically acclaimed shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones without it? Many people attribute this fundamental shift in the nature of popular television, from episodic towards serialized, to DVDs and legitimate digital sources—but I’d wager that piracy is a much more significant factor.

There are two main reasons. Firstly, the ability to watch any episode any time makes such can’t-miss-an-episode shows less of a commitment. This, alone, is the single biggest contributing factor to the popularity of heavily serialized television, and it is impossible to explain it entirely with DVDs and sources like iTunes. Many cable subscribers turn to piracy as a way to catch missed episodes, and that safety net prevents serialized shows from alienating viewers and losing momentum. Secondly, unauthorized sources are especially popular with the fanatics—the people who evangelize “must watch” shows to their friends and coworkers, and who create memes with screencaps to spread on Tumblr and Facebook. That’s not to mention the amateur critics and TV bloggers who generate buzz (in fact, there is a bit of a back and forth going on over the ethics of piracy in the critic community).

Of course, as digital offerings get better, more and more of this kind of activity happens through legitimate channels instead of piracy (not like anyone’s been saying that all along, or anything). But services like Netflix got to the table once the serial television trend was in full-swing, so they don’t account for its inception. Some people fear that television piracy will put at end to such ambitious undertakings in the medium—but they should stop to consider the hand it played in making them possible to begin with.

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Companies: hbo, netflix

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Comments on “Just How Much Do Shows Like Game Of Thrones Owe To Piracy?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I just waited till HBO’s free weekend they do every summer and watched the whole series on demand.

This year HBO sent me a free 3 months trial card that I have until July 1 to activiate. So I’ll wait till the seasons half way over and watch it on demand, then finish up as it airs.

I want to see it pretty badly but no rush, I read the books so its not like I have to worry about spoilers.

So they have one show I like, I would happily pay them 10 bucks a month for a year to watch it but I am not paying 90$ a month to a cable company to watch 10 hours of programming.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Some of them get it...

If your trying to create buzz for a returning show and plump up your numbers you “accidentally” make sure that a press preview copy gets leaked online.
You then issue a press release saying it wasn’t the final product, you didn’t authorize it, and you’ll get them and their little dog too.
This draws attention that viewers (or their teenage computer whiz’s) can get a copy to watch within minutes. Then your interested in seeing if it was changed before the final airing.
This creates a ton of buzz online as people start the discussions early about the show. It draws in the “purists” who feel you can only ever watch the show on the day and time the network releases it, and those who just want to know what happened.

While this is a useful marketing tool to them, they have yet to take the next step. Offering authorized downloads, they are still stuck in the mindset we must always make X, even if X is the number they made 50 years ago. They fear gutting the DVD/BluRay market, which is already shrinking because many consumers just want to watch the show not 20 minutes of forced previews of something else you made that needs a boost.

If they just took the iTunes model of offering the material at a “reasonable” price (and we can debate reasonable for a long time, it is what the market will bear not what they imagine it SHOULD be worth) without many hassles to get and view it you will make more money.

Imagine a world where instead of being forced to buy high priced cable packages just to get the 1 channel you want, and instead being able to just pay directly for the content you want, when you want, how you want.

There will be much shill/troll bemoaning how we all want it for free, and the “evidence” supports that when you ignore that the torrent ecosystem has no authorized competition. That people would willingly pay a few bucks for an episode, they might even buy a package with a higher price tag IF you offer all of the extras you have access to. They worry about their DVD releases not having enough demand to make it worth the effort, so “presell” me the DVD of the season and as a bonus offer me “decent” quality unDRMed files to watch and stay up to date with the show. They don’t have to be super quality highend rips, (have you seen what passes for a rip of a tv show these days?!) but something I can watch on my TV, PC, iThingy, Phone, etc… to keep me engaged. And when the season is over then the better payoff… you know how many DVDs you need to make and add bonus content to the people who supported you.

If you refuse to offer something that is completely possible, don’t bitch when people make it possible. Stop trying to stomp them out having your moral temper tantrum and compete. You’ve rested on your laurels for far to long, the future will belong to the companies who embrace the future and offer something better.

The internet… it could be like cable, except no long drawn out contract disputes over pennies.

Watchit (profile) says:

Re: Some of them get it...

There’s a great example of this being done right with the new Avatar (the tv show not the movie) series, the Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon actually released the first two episodes online, and had high quality versions available on Amazon and itunes for free. I’m so excited to see the rest of the series, it looks so good ๐Ÿ˜€

bob (profile) says:

Wrong-- It's the paywall

Do you think we would have complex, well-acted dramas without HBO’s paywall? It sure is much easier to pay a salary to everyone with the paywall because advertising isn’t worth much these days. That’s why all of the best shows and best sports are heading behind the paywall.

It is fascinating to watch you try to argue that somehow piracy deserves credit for this because people can get hooked on the show from a P2P network. And what will the cheap jerks do when the new episodes come out? Will they dutifully subscribe to HBO? Wrong. They’ll just download the latest episode too.

HBO On Demand and HBO Go pretty much get rid of the reason for legit users to pirate stuff. While I see many casual pirates will eventually listen to their conscience, I just don’t see much to the argument that piracy makes these shows possible. It’s the real customers who pay the bills each month.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

HBO On Demand and HBO Go pretty much get rid of the reason for legit users to pirate stuff.HBO On Demand and HBO Go pretty much get rid of the reason for legit users to pirate stuff.

Those would get rid of the reason to pirate if you didn’t already have to have HBO through the cable companies. With it being pirated so much, how much money would they make if they offered it to those pirates at a low cost? And lower cost doesn’t have to mean lower profits.

Dan J. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

“Those would get rid of the reason to pirate if you didn’t already have to have HBO through the cable companies. With it being pirated so much, how much money would they make if they offered it to those pirates at a low cost? And lower cost doesn’t have to mean lower profits.”

Would they make more money? I honestly don’t know. Cable companies pay HBO to carry their programming. That’s because of the situation being complained about – if you want to watch HBO, you subscribe to the cable company. Having HBO drives people to the cable companies, so they pay HBO. If HBO offers their shows directly to viewers, they’re making themselves less valuable to the cable companies because fewer people will be driven to subscribe to cable in order to get HBO. So the cable companies will either stop paying HBO or will pay them less. Will the revenue from direct purchases be sufficient to overcome the loss of revenue from the cable companies? I have no idea. But it isn’t a slam dunk case that it would.

In short, what HBO and the cable companies are doing are creating artificial scarcities. That does two things. It drives people to pirate, and it drives up the cost of legal purchase. The second effect may very well be enough that, from a purely money-making perspective, it outweighs the first.

macchugsid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

There are a large number of people that will not under any circumstance use a cable or satellite company. HBO has left that money on the table to do what? Cater to cable companies? Really, it makes no sense to not find a way to pick up those sales. Per episode through iTunes is one possibility. Not waiting 11 damn months to release the DVD would be nice also.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

Walking dead was on amc’s website last year for the first episode. I watched it myself and then had to pirate it to show my gf when they stopped showing it there. Guess what happened? Oh noes! I bought all the comics! And the dvd!

Mad Men I started pirating 3 years after it started, and we got about halfway through the first season. Guess what happened? Oh noes! We bought *all 4 seasons* on dvd. Now in its 5th season, we pirate those and will buy the dvd when its released.

Breaking bad we’ve started pirating late, too. We’ve done that for all the seasons. When the dvds aren’t priced to rape us, we’ll buy them to.

And so on with Game of thrones, and True blood.

House, I pirate any episodes that aren’t on hulu and watch the rest on hulu. I borrowed season 5 and 6 from a friend at work though. I might buy these, depends on how the show ends.

Fringe I mostly watch pirated so I can watch it at work on my phone, but when this show wraps I will probably buy the box set.

Twin peaks, I downloaded a crappy 320×240 version of season 2 about 10 years ago, since there was no season 2 dvd. (I already owned the 1st season dvds). I bought the 2nd season the moment I saw it on Amazon.

So, what were you saying? In my experience, piracy is a driver of sales. After all, piracy made these sales possible. HBO On Demand and HBO Go do nothin to reduce piracy. Those idiots require you to have a subscription to HBO, which requires cable service. Fuck that old man. So no, I don’t dutifully subscribe to hbo, but I do buy the dvds when they come out.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

This is admittedly an informal survey, but I know a lot of people who watch these kinds of shows and: a) virtually all of them use pirated sources at least sometimes (b) several of them are cable subscribers as well (c) some subscribed to cable after years of piracy (d) TONNES subscribed to netflix after years of piracy

So hate it though you might, yes: piracy absolutely does generate customers, especially if you offer the pirates a service like Netflix that is closer to what they have grown to expect.

But, this post really isn’t about the financial aspect. I’m talking about the cultural shift in the medium – which is big, and much-discussed – and the role piracy played in it. And it’s admittedly speculative. Nevertheless, my view of the emergence of this kind of television (which started back with The Sopranos and Six Feet Under) gives me the impression that piracy played a major role in driving awareness, acceptance and popularity.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

It’s not on Netflix? Guess I’ll be watching something else then.

The future is easy to see. You will pay to have all content available all the time any way you want to watch it. The pirates do this already. Cable’s not competing with free. It’s competing with convenience.

Cable used to be convenient. It’s not any more (I don’t watch anything unless I can press pause). Watching stuff on someone else’s schedule is 20th century thinking.

Netflix has everything but the content, but it’s got enough content to make it worth paying for. The cable companies should be doing everything they can to make their service as much like Netflix as possible. That means making it cheaper and ala carte. They can fight it and stick to their scheduled programing, but that’s not the future.

AC says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

“(d) TONNES subscribed to netflix after years of piracy”

My wife worked at a (now defunct) video rental place, and we got all the free rentals we wanted. But going to the store to return discs on her off-days, the 3-movies-out limit, and just the plain old hassle of dealing with physical discs led me to download a TON of movies. It’s just plain easier.

When the store went under, we switched to Netflix, and the movie piracy in my household has completely stopped.

This doesn’t apply directly to premium channels such as HBO, but if networks are going to make most of their shows available online with ads a day or two after they air, why not release an “official” torrent with ads?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

I was born in 87 and my parents never had cable growing up. I went straight from blockbuster to netflix, straight from napster to soulseek to itunes. Never paid for a cd, never paid for cable, RARELY paid for a dvd.
You HAVE to offer me streaming if you want my moneys bc its not just what i prefer, its what i know. And people like me are only going to increase as time goes on.

Yo! Ho! says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

Last month I gave into curiosity and downloaded the first season of Game of Thrones, and promptly got sucked in. When I heard HBO offered decent quality streaming through HBO Go, I went to their website to subscribe, only to find out the only way I can access HBO Go is to be a subscriber through my cable company. Sorry HBO you lost a sale. I haven’t carried cable TV in almost a decade, not going to start now. And I’m definitely not going to carry cable just so I can access your *internet streaming service*. Whoever thought up that one wins the IQ of an amoeba award.

I am one pirate who would gladly pay for authorized streaming sources. A $5/mo sub fee to HBO Go would have won me in an instant, admittedly though, I wouldn’t pay much more than that. Why? Because $60/yr is about 2x the cost of a season on dvd, and as of this point in time, there’s only 1 show I’d watch.

Think about that, you idiots in marketing. You’d get twice as much per year out of a sub from me than you would if I bought the season on DVD. You guys should be totally drooling over the casual subscriber like me. The ones that you’d earn nothing but profit off of. But instead you waste a golden opportunity.

Until there is a legitimate way to watch current episodes on my computer for a reasonable price, I’ll pirate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

Classic Monday Mornin’ Trollin’

Do you think we would have complex, well-acted dramas without HBO’s paywall?

Ahh, start with the false premise. The article simply states that the more people exposed to the show the more people want to watch it. Strawman? Check!

The rest of your response continues to debunk your own made up argument.

Eo Nomine says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

“It is fascinating to watch you try to argue that somehow piracy deserves credit for this because people can get hooked on the show from a P2P network. And what will the cheap jerks do when the new episodes come out? Will they dutifully subscribe to HBO? Wrong. They’ll just download the latest episode too.”

This is exactly right. How can piracy have helped boost GoT’s second season premiere ratings when those ratings require a subscription to HBO… and if you subscribe to HBO, you have access to HBO Go and therefore have no reason to pirate? The only way piracy actually helps HBO is if pirates convert to subscribers, and given that the primary complaint is that HBO ‘forces’ people to pirate GoT because it requires a cable subscription you’ll forgive me if I’m highly skeptical of any claims that piracy increases subscriptions.

You’re conflating popularity with success… the two aren’t the same. And I’d argue that GoT is popular (and pirated) because it’s well-written, well-acted high quality programming based on a hugely successful franchise with huge production values, not because it’s pirated.

Oh, and while many here undoubtedly like to expound upon how disconnected & outdated HBO is by employing their business model, here’s a fantastic reply to Inman & Siegler that also explains why HBO does this: http://www.avclub.com/articles/patience-and-piracy-why-helping-yourself-hurts-goo,70068/

Read it; perhaps you’ll actually learn something about the industry you claim to know better than.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

They absolutely make money through piracy. After downloading the first season while it was airing(because I won’t pay my cable company $50/mo in order to have the privilege to pay $15 a month more for HBO), I waited patiently for the Blu-ray to release, and pre-ordered it on Amazon the first day.

And guess what? HBO released a top-notch Blu-ray set, with the best sound quality I have heard on any release ever, and a boatload of features that enhance both the book and the series. Will I buy all remaining seasons day of pre-order availability? You bet. Will I subscribe to HBO Go the day it’s available to non-cable subscribers? Absolutely. Will I continue to first pirate the series until that option becomes available? Yep.

HBO, please let me give you my money. Until then, I’ll find other ways to access the content.

FYI – I actually went online and completed the survey that came with the Blu-ray set. One of the questions was, “Are you an HBO Go subscriber?” I said no. The next question was, “Why haven’t you subscribed to HBO Go?” One of the options was, “I do not want to subscribe to cable to access HBO Go,” or something very similar. So, they are aware of the issue, and they are deliberately addressing it in their survey. Chances are, they will open up subscription access within the next few years. In the future, a la carte will become the rule, not the exception, as people will be able to subscribe to individual premium producers. That will be an awesome day indeed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

The article you linked dissagrees with you significantly. It concludes with:

“I suspect this all reaches a point in the next decade where HBO either kisses traditional cable companies goodbye and follows Netflix off into online-based subscriptions or where the network gets trapped in its own vicious circle and dragged down by its own massive success.”

They’re making a moral argument that patience is more moral and getting it now but business wise it’s right there with the oatmeal and articles like this one here on techdirt pointing out that this thing HBO is doing will either be temporary or it will kill them. So using this as a ‘this is why you’re wrong about business models and the industry’ reference as you have is pretty stupid of you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

HBO On Demand and HBO Go pretty much get rid of the reason for legit users to pirate stuff. While I see many casual pirates will eventually listen to their conscience, I just don’t see much to the argument that piracy makes these shows possible. It’s the real customers who pay the bills each mont

They would, except for one glaring reason: both are available only to people who subscribe to HBO’s TV service, which in turn is only available to people who subscribe to their local cable TV service and have HBO available in their country. If I could pay $10-$20 a month for HBO Go on its own, and get Game of Thrones legally, I would in a heartbeat. If I could pay ~$50 just for Game of Thrones season 2 as it came out (even an 8 day delay like on Hulu with other shows would be acceptable to me, though live would be best), I wouldn’t even have to think about it, the purchase would be made. Heck, I’d to that, in addition to buying the eventual Blu ray release. But I’m not paying $100 a month any more for the cheapest cable TV package in my area that includes HBO. And no other legal source of season 1 was available for 11 months, and there’s no reason to think they won’t do the same for season 2.

So instead, doing the same thing as I did for season 1; pirating it, and putting the Blu ray discs on preorder the moment it pops up on Amazon. I’d still be willing to pay twice for the show (once live, once blu ray), but if HBO won’t accept my money that sucks for them.

macchugsid says:

Re: Wrong-- It's the paywall

I downloaded the entire first season of Game of Thrones. When they,finally released the DVD I bought it. The same for True Blood and Boardwalk Empire but I have not bought them yet. I am waiting for a price drop or to see them on sale then I will buy. I did the same thing with the movie Avatar. I went and saw it in IMAX 3D with my kids and grandkids. When the extended version came our on Blu-Ray I bought it.
When I recently bought Game of Thrones it was a special covered version on sale at Best Buy. I took a survey from a URL in the box from Harris Polls for HBO. I specifically told them in my comments that if it were not on sale I never would have paid the list of 70 plus dollars for it. I have been bitching about this overpricing since they started selling TV series on DVD. Star Trek use to be over $100 dollars a season for christ sakes! These are nothing but reruns! I like having them on Blu-Ray but I refuse to be gouged for the privilege of watching RERUNS! I will continue to download and watch them at MY leisure! Maybe, they ought to figure out a way to let people buy them a episode at a time (iTunes?) I would buy one once a week if the quality was good. I don’t want to subscribe to HBO to watch one or two shows a week, Not worth it! Paywall my ass!

Jeff (profile) says:

Paywall boB!

Yes – you can have complex, well-acted dramas without HBO’s paywall… In fact I’m going to say that they are late comers to the complex, well-acted drama serializations… But don’t just take my word for it… use that forgetten mass of grey goo in your head – your brain if *very* useful if you’d use it once in a while.
Seriously – you’re frothing (santoruming) at the mouth to spew anything against Mike or Leigh really causes you to stick your foot in your mouth constantly… how’s that shoe leather taste?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a good theory, but only some are prepared to mention the elephant in the room: plenty of people (quite possibly the majority) caught up through unauthorized streams and torrents, just like Matthew Inman. And that brings us to the bigger elephant lurking in the whole house: how much has piracy contributed to the rise of HBO-style television? Would we have complex, high-concept, critically acclaimed shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones without it? Many people attribute this fundamental shift in the nature of popular television, from episodic towards serialized, to DVDs and legitimate digital sources?but I’d wager that piracy is a much more significant factor.

Great faith-based “analysis.” Mike has taught you well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Its only faith based if it isn’t true, but in this case, it is true. I would neverhave caught up on lost, if it weren’t a) free on abcs website, where I watched some o it and b) for all the episodes I downloaded to my archos to watch at work.

I’m one of many, id wager, that had their friends get them into the show and caught up to them because I downloaded.

I used to watch season 1 and 2 of fringe with friends the night it aired. They got busy and started to dvr season 3, and eventually when it became clear I wouldn’t be watching it with them, I pirated most of the 3rd season. Now I’m watching the 4th having to download it cause I am busy Friday nights and waiting 8 days is a bit of a insult. (1 day would make a lot more sense)

A guy at work rents fringe from the library and rips the dvds. He’s catching up to me.

lexieliberty (profile) says:

Why can't HBO Go have torrents?!

I watched Mad Men on tv last night and then I downloaded Game of Thrones. If HBO and other networks allowed you to stream/download episodes one by one and or by season (while the show/episodes are being aired) and had us pay like a dollar for it–I would. I don’t want to get HBO from my AT&T cable, I just want to watch SOME of HBO whenever I want. If they let viewers watch their shows without having a cable package online whenever the viewer pleased they would get money from us and we wouldn’t pirate so much.

Modplan (profile) says:

Not really.

For example, it was found that pirates are more likely to buy CD’s by Industry Canada.

Or how about Channels & Conflict: Response to Digital Media Distribution, Impact on Sales and Internet Piracy which found that the lack of legitimate access created an increase in piracy, but not an associated negative effect for DVD sales and other means of paid access.

Or how about research that indicates that piracy boosts anime sales?

I’d say there’s a lot of a basis to those claims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, he is expressing opinions and acting like they are facts – and they are not.

He has little understanding of trademarks, got his ass handed to him for bullshitting. Here again, his entire story (stated pretty much as fact) hinges on “I bet”. That is only opinion.

The title asks a question, and tries to answer it with opinion, backed up by NOTHING. He entirely discounts word of mouth, marketing, promotion, reviews, magazine articles, online blogs, social networking, and many other ways to which this show has gained in audience, and attributes it all to piracy – without a speck of information to support it.

It bullshit… he knows it, but will stand there and act like it isn’t.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Um, yeah, I think this post makes it pretty goddamn clear that it’s a speculative opinion. All those gotchas you think you’ve noticed? Yeah – those were the clues that I know perfectly well where I’m coming from and what I”m offering: an opinion. Everyone else seems to have picked up on that no problem… guess you’re a little slow on the uptake (or, y’know, just blinded by this weird rage you harbour against me)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I don’t harbor any rage against you. You are an insignificant speck on the planet, really mostly a waste of oxygen as far as I am concerned (my opinion… we are allowed those, right?). I don’t have any rage against you, that is your take on my enjoyment of watching you make an ass out of yourself.

I think it’s equally funny watching the local suck up to you, but that’s another post for another day.

Pretty much everything in this piece is speculation. How popular is piracy with “fanatics”? Do you have anything other that conjecture to support that stand? Or are you willing to admit that everything you put up is opinion on opinion on “I think that”? Remember, this is all the sorts of stuff you try to skewer me with every day – now you do it for a living, and we are all suppose to cut you some slack and let your unsupported opinions slide by?

You aren’t special – and certainly not special enough to rage about. You can try pumping your ego up thinking that the case I guess, but that would be just another of your stunning misrepresentations of reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Nice comeback – proving only that you are full of it and unable to support your point of view.

Mike, you need to fire this loser – he’s lowering the quality of your site (which seemed impossible to do, but he manages).

So Marcus, for your future posts, I guess I can just refer to this one and say “Marcus is unable to support his positions with facts”? Are you that much of a loser?

ImNotAnybodyYouKnow says:

Actually, I DID pirate the first series. I watched half the show with a friend I stayed with on holiday and got hooked on the thing, bringing back the rest of the season. I then went and bought the five book set so at least George got a bit of money out of that.

Interestingly, I also pirated the mobi of the latest book since I don’t want the hardcover (only one available to me at the moment) and read it on my tablet. but I’ll STILL buy the softcover when it shows up at the local SciFi book shop.

So what I’m really doing is timeshifting, but in the opposite direction to normal ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So wait, every time a show has a better second season, it’s because of piracy? Quick, call the show makers, they need to know this magic!

Actually, it could be nothing more than people who heard about it from their friends, read reviews online, bought into the “hype” of the release of the second season, and decided to check it out.

Attributing it to piracy is like attributing a rainy day to the color clothes you wear. You might be able to see some connection, but there is no proof that it means anything.

macchugsid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Actually, it could be nothing more than people who heard about it from their friends, read reviews online, bought into the “hype” of the release of the second season, and decided to check it out”

So, if all this were true as to how they came to know about the show. exactly where would they go to get it if it were not available through normal channels?

Piracy, maybe? Then they might even go subscribe or buy the DVD or maybe not. But. if just 1% did subscribe or buy the DVD could that then not be attributed to piracy? IMO I do believe it could.

This is the very scenario that introduced me to True Blood. I own some of the seasons. Not all, because they way overpriced at list. I wait for the sale price. It still proves the point. I heard about True Blood by word of mouth, TV talk, articles, etc. I downloaded the first Season and have been hooked since.

Lesath (profile) says:

I realize that HBO doesn’t want to upset the cable companies. It seems to me that HBO could have a streaming service. If people don’t have or don’t want cable, having them being able to subscribe to HBO Go doesn’t lose the cable companies anything. Cox, my cable company, sent me a coupon late in 2010 saying I could get HBO free for a year or a boost to my internet speed, or something else I could use. I chose HBO strictly for the Game of Thrones.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

So reading later comments something else becomes clear…
HBO thinks of themselves as ONLY a Cable Channel.
Everything they offer is tied to you having to pay fees to have HBO.

Have they stopped and done the math real quick?
How much do the cable co’s pay them a month for their content?
If they get more subscribers do they get more?
Do they get a cut of every advertisement run on their channel? What about the ones where local offices run other commercials over the ones in the feed?
Have they looked into what it would cost for them to just offer streaming directly?

It is 2012, and your business model is focused on the Golden Age of Television.
You found out people were willing to pay for your content, which was a big change from broadcast TV.
Where you put it out there, and the advertising paid the bills.
Then the move to cable, where people will pay for access to your content.
But somehow they are still forced to endure more commercials.

There is a new pipe to send content over, that runs to many houses and hell even directly into peoples hands. You can reach way more people, and make more money… if you create a new business model that embraces what people are doing.
Sell them the content how they want it, when they want it, and throw the old ideas of how this is supposed to work to the side. Stop trying to make it scarce, its EVERYWHERE already.
The question to ask yourself is will you stop whining and offer something better and make money, or tighten your grip and watch the grains of sand slip between your fingers. Once upon a time (as has been pointed out over and over) we used to depend on ice men to bring the blocks of ice to keep food fresh. We don’t use them anymore, because people embraced technology and moved forward. Its time to give up how TV worked in the 60s, and build how TV should work in 2012.

Rob says:

HBO charges way too much

I watched season one Sunday nights by downloading it 15 minutes after it aired on HBO. I’m doing the same for season two. I will do the same for Boardwalk Empire and True Blood. I would gladly purchase HBO, but they charge $17 a month for that channel. That is a rip off! I’ll pay when they lower their prices in half. $8 a month is reasonable. I don’t feel bad about any of this at all. They need to lower their rates if they want my cash.

Have a nice day HBO!! Thanks for the free programming. Oh, sorry, I should thank Usenet for that.

Rob says:

How can anyone feel sorry for HBO? I imagine a company full of overpaid executives in a very tall building somewhere in New York City complaining to each other all the time how all their wonderful TV shows are pirated. Yet they fail to see how their shows are restricted in so many ways. High prices! Remember they now compete against free. Having to wait a year before it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Not available on Netflix. HBO Go only works if you pay for HBO through a provider. HBO Go should be available to everyone for $8 a month. I would gladly pay. Not the $17 Directv charges me. Isn’t it better for HBO to get some of my money rather than none. How come these HBO Executives can’t figure any of this out? Dumb and living in the 1960’s. TV has changed forever. Make the content available at a fair price, when, and how people want it and then you will make gobs of money.

And they wonder why people pirate it!

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve got an HBO subscription and I’ve also downloaded the episodes after they air. Is that wrong? We don’t have HBO Go way up here in backwoods Canada, I can view episodes online through the Bell (satellite provider) website but I can’t get that stream on my TV, only a PC.

Is it still a lost sale when I am a paying HBO customer?

Wayne Andersen (profile) says:

Not just piracy

I have purchased a Roku box to provide channels to a new TV at my home. I did not have anyway to get my satellite cables to the TV in a clean manner.

Since all I have on the TV is content available via he Roku, specifically Netflix and Amazon Prime. I have spent more time exploring the existing content that I never had a chance to view previously.

I have found and become hooked on a number of shows that I sometimes faintly remember seeing ads for and others that I completely missed.

Some examples are White Collar and The Defenders. I have since watched all of the episodes of both and am anxiously waiting for the new episodes of White Collar to arrive via this distribution channel.

I was very excited to see the new season available via my DirecTV subscription but discovered that with my schedule and the complexity of some of the story lines, it just does not interest me to watch them as they come out, and I will be waiting till next year when I will be able to sit with my wife and watch the full episodes in our own time.

Unfortunately the advertisers for these shows will not get any of my attention, I regularly find myself going out of my way to support the creators of these shows. So that I can continue to get content I like.

So even though some producers are so bent about a certain percentage of piracy that they refuse to have their content appear on these alternative distribution methods, they will never have my attention, just the smaller portion of those that are willing to pirate the content since they have no other reasonable or convenient alternative.

Phil says:

Oh and the people who claim to buy things AFTER they have already watched them, or read them, or listened to them… they are completely foreign to me, and sound fake. I don’t believe it. No one I know would willingly spend money on something that is available for free, certainly not after they already have the free version in hand. I think that meme is a complete line of bullshit. “Oh I watched it and then I bought the DVD”… yeah right. Bullshit.

inconsistency (profile) says:

re: phil

Just because YOU don’t or won’t pay doesn’t mean everyone is like you.

I WANT to give my money when i’ve been entertained.

I have purchased DVDs many times after an initial pirate viewing, for the bonus features, ability to loan to non tech friends, and because I want to pay the creators for their efforts.

Same with Cds, though these generally don’t have so many bonus features ๐Ÿ™‚

Music, in particular, is easier to discover through torrents. Much of it I don’t like, and I delete it.

Others I really do enjoy – these become my next album and/or live music I pay for

Chris says:


The problem is everything from TV shows and music, games, whatever somehow think “if there was no piracy, those people that pirated it would have no choice but to buy it instead!”

No. It doesn’t work like that, people just don’t buy it at all. Piracy is not millions of guaranteed sales, who came up with that? Idiots.

Frank says:

I agree with the idea behind torrents having a huge influence on the popularity of many TV show. Just to add something, torrenting can be expensive in many countries, since you can get huge fines, I found an article how to bypass this, it is for Game of Thrones, but basically you can use it for any shows or movies https://medium.com/@devanmccray3/how-to-stream-game-of-thrones-online-for-free-8a0a95ad017e

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