Does Piracy Help “Game of Thrones”?

Attending the Perth’s Writers Festival in Western Australia over the weekend was filmmaker David Petrarca, a frequent director of high profile HBO series like “True Blood,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Game of Thrones”.

Petrarca was part of a panel discussing the rise of premium cable TV channels and the challenge it presents to other storytelling formats like novels. The topic of piracy came up, specifically “Game of Thrones” which was the most pirated show globally last year.

It is an especially relevant topic in Australia as it is estimated that nearly 2% of the entire country’s population illegally downloads an average episode of ‘Thrones’, compared with 0.13% of the U.S. population (the next highest downloader of that show).

According to The Age, Petrarca said that illegal downloads did not matter because such shows thrived on “cultural buzz” and capitalise on the social commentary they generated. More buzz equals an increase in show’s popularity, and “that’s how they survive.” He added that HBO alone had 26 million subscribers in the US and 60 million worldwide, plenty of money filtering in and allowing the channel to produce high quality content despite any illegal downloading.

‘Thrones’ may have lost a few million due to both piracy and HBO’s refusal to make the show available day-and-date through VOD services like iTunes, on the flip side the holding off certainly builds anticipation for the legitimate channel releases.

Released on disc and VOD last week, the second season sold 241,000 units in its first day – the biggest first-day numbers ever for an HBO home video release, and a 44% increase on the first season. Also in its first day, HBO sold 355,000 individual episodes via digital downloads – up 112% from season one.

Source: The Age