It’s another new season for HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which also brings up concerns over piracy. Some still call it “marketing.”
According to reports, the first four episodes of season five of “Thrones” have been downloaded a collective million times. The first four seasons were downloaded around seven million times -- easily the most globally pirated TV show, according to Irdeto.
Concerns for HBO and Time Warner? Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes recently said the high demand for the show is “better than an Emmy.” That kind of marketing-tinged comment still sounds strange to some. But in the U.S., with HBO only seen in roughly 30% of U.S. TV homes, “Thrones” is kind of a marketing tool.
So Bewkes seems to be playing a careful game of supply and demand. HBO’s new stand-alone digital TV service, HBO Now, heads into this morass -- hoping to attract 70 million of the 100 million U.S. TV homes of those who don’t currently get HBO by traditional means.
One wonders how these issues change now that “Thrones” now accounts for 34% of current usage on HBO Now.
Many believe all this puts “Thrones” into a different category -- the type of marketing you can’t buy. Consumers still have a high engagement with the show. What’s better than that?
So HBO walks a thin line. Better awareness for HBO Now because of “piracy”? Or will the success of HBO Now help to lessen piracy?
HBO’s TV content in recent years seems to have benefited from marketing itself like niche, critically acclaimed, independent theatrical movies, especially with journalists’ positive responses.
The irony is that HBO, according to reports, may also be concerned this round of piracy of “Thrones” is coming from leaked preview copies of the first four episodes that HBO distributed to journalists, finding their way to the bigger platform of global piracy.