Forbes reports that HBO’s Game of Thrones is on track to be the most pirated show of 2012:
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. 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. (The situation was captured in thewidely read comic strip The Oatmeal, in which the author attempts the rage-inducing process of trying to watch “Game of Thrones” online before giving up and downloading it from a sleazy porn-ad covered torrent site.)
A frame from the comic strip The Oatmeal, which pointed out how HBO drives ‘Game of Thrones’ viewers to piracy by making the show tough to watch online.
“This is absolutely a reaction to the show’s not being available elsewhere online,” says Big Champagne’s Robinson. “It’s a very tricky game trying to create this kind of scarcity.”
I’ve written several times about the mistakes that HBO is making in the Internet Age. Perhaps most damning is the fact that HBO’s products and services don’t even work well for paying customers.
This underscores the larger problem with how so many companies in the entertainment industry think about piracy. Instead of thinking about the ways lack of access to media creates opportunity for piracy, and how increasing the access to products could help stave off illegal downloads, too often people want to take legal measures or implement digital protection on their products. These “fixes” always have easy work-arounds.
Meanwhile, the millions of pirated Game of Thrones episodes show that it’s not difficult at all for non-subscribers to enjoy the show. I’m willing to bet that a stand-alone HBO GO service would largely fix this problem, though nothing will stop piracy altogether.
Game of Thrones in particular appeals to young people — people more prone to be cord cutters. They’ll pay for a standalone HBO product, but aren’t going to get cable just for one network or show.