The return of the HBO favorite Game of Thrones sparked record breaking internet piracy numbers when episodes from seasons 1-4 were illegally downloaded 7 million times in the last 3 months. But that didn’t faze HBO; the channel has been known to be indifferent with internet piracy. In the words of CEO Jeff Bewkes:
“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… If you go around the world, I think you’re right; Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.”
Bewkes opinion might not last long, considering that on the very day Game of Thrones is supposed to return, the first four episodes of the new season 5 has been leaked all at once. The illegal copies were first seen on IPT, a private torrent tracker, and were spread into bigger torrent websites including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, and RARBG. According to the data collected by Torrent Freak, the season five episodes have been downloaded 100,000 times in the first three hours of its leakage.
This bad news has surely slammed HBO’s efforts in carefully planning the simultaneous release of the show and “HBO Now.” Supposedly, HBO Now’s primary selling point is its easy, without-cable access of Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, the fans have already illegally downloaded the episodes before they premiered.