Being one of TV's most popular shows comes with a hefty price. In the case of Game Of Thrones, that price is piracy and lots and lots of it. Throughout the years, HBO has had to adjust to the constant stream of attempts at illegal reproduction and theft of its biggest show.
One of the ways in which the company's tried to fight back is by making the show's latest episodes available as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped people from going after it. Right now #GameOfThronesSeason7 is fast approaching, and through its new marketing strategy, the effect piracy has had on the show is more evident than ever.
'Game Of Thrones' Long History With Piracy
People very clearly love exploring the dangerous land of Westeros, since #GameOfThrones has topped the list of most pirated shows in the world for five consecutive years, above even The Walking Dead, Westworld, and The Flash.
The Season 6 premiere, for example, was especially troubling for HBO. Season 5 ended with the question of whether Jon Snow would return to the realm of the living after seemingly getting killed. As you can imagine, people were eager to know what would happen next, and so many turned to torrenting the Season 6 premiere.
Surprisingly, there was a time HBO seemed to be okay –– even happy –– about the amount of people stealing the show. In 2013, Time Warner CEO, Jeff Bewkes talked about the benefits of piracy:
"Basically, we've been dealing with this issue for years with HBO, literally 20, 30 years, where people have always been running wires down on the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors.
Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising — we don't do a whole lot of paid advertising on HBO, we let the programming and the views talk for us — it seems to be working."
Things got tougher for the company, however. Two years ago, HBO sent out the first four episodes of Season 5 to press and critics ahead of the show's premiere. Unfortunately those episodes ended up on torrent sites, where they quickly spread scenes and spoilers alike to the public.
HBO Taking The Steps To Fight Back Against Piracy
Understandably, HBO's been working hard on taking extra measures to stop the show's theft across the world. In May of 2016, HBO partnered with IP-Echelon, a company which would send out copyright notices to internet providers, informing them of suspected internet pirates for the companies to check on and ensure their users would not engage in further piracy.
This year, the most recent response comes courtesy of the aforementioned critics' DVD leak. A year after that issue, #HBO denied review copies to critics, and this year will be no different. There will presumably be a red carpet for the seventh season's first episodes, but the practice of sending them to people will end in order to keep the episodes as safe from illegally prying eyes as possible.
The approach makes sense. This upcoming season is the penultimate one, so fans are probably in for a heart-pounding ride from start to finish. Neither the creative minds or HBO executives behind the show will want those moments floating around the internet ahead of time.
It's great to know HBO is taking the steps necessary to protect its product. At the same time, however, it's worrying to know entertainment companies have to take such measures in order to stop digital theft.
Game of Thrones will return for its seventh season on July 16, 2017.
What do you think about Game of Thrones' way of dealing with piracy? Let me know in the comments!