Thursday 4 April 2013

Game of Thrones beats piracy records

The first episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones was aired by HBO in the US on Sunday, and Torrent Freak reports that with a million downloads on BitTorrent in less than a day, the season premiere has broken all sorts of piracy records.

© Blythe T
After the show had aired in the US so many people downloaded the BitTorrent illegally, they broke the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm. A few hours later, 163,088 people where sharing a single torrent, 110,303 were sharing a complete copy of that torrent and 52,786 were still downloading. Torrent Freak estimates that, combined with other released torrents, the Game of Thrones episode has been downloaded over a million times a day since it was released in the US.
Torrent Freak says that "these are mind boggling numbers that we've never seen before."

Had the television show been aired globally at the same time as in the US the makers of the show might have seen less pirating of their content. However Torrent Freak notes that 12.9% of the piracy in this instance occurred in the US, because HBO is a subscription based channel. The UK was the next biggest offender, with 11.5% of infringers, followed closely by Australia, Canada and France.
Interestingly back in February of this year, David Petrarca, director of Game of Thrones said that he wasn't too worried about illegal downloads, because shows like Game of Thrones thrive on their "cultural buzz" and capitalise on the social commentary that they generate. He went on to say that as HBO has 26 million subscribers in the US and 60 million worldwide, there was plenty of money filtering in and allowing the channel to produce high quality content despite any illegal downloading.

The writer of Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, said in March: "We are the most pirated show in the world. In a strange way that's a compliment." He went on to talk about the fact that because the market place is now global, time lapses between release dates in the US and other countries can lead to piracy, but concluded "I leave this to the guys in the suits and the guys with the really big computers who understand that stuff and they can figure out the business models. I'll just tell my stories."
What do readers think? Should broadcasters take responsibility for reducing piracy by releasing content simultaneously, or should television shows see piracy as a "compliment", enabling them to sell more merchandise?


Lucile said...

Maybe it is similar in one way with library users (though what they are doing is legal!) vs book buyers. Some author (the horrible man who wrote the horrible stories, sorry cannot lose my time in searching for his name) was moaning about the fact he was losing money because of libraries... do library users never buy books? I know I do both: borrow from my public library and buy the latest book in Blackwell's or Waterstones. Piracy will always happen, and also for films... but people do also, from time to time go to the cinema theatre because nothing compares with the big screen and going out with friends.

Dan said...

This highlights the point that, at some point, revenues and payments become sufficient and you don't need to monetize every use.