HBO is home to many popular TV shows. Having been in the industry for so long and seen such success, piracy is not something new to them. This is especially true for its most popular show, Game of Thrones, which takes the throne (pun intended) for being the world’s most pirated TV show 4 years in a row.
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There’s so much negativity surrounding the issue of piracy and people are always trying to find new ways to tackle it, take the “three strikes” piracy scheme for example. Not too long ago, a “three strikes” piracy scheme aimed at tracking down pirates and issuing warning letters based on their downloading behaviour was proposed. On their first offense, pirates are let off with just a warning. A second offense may result in slower internet speeds or possibly a temporary account suspension. And a third offense could involve serious legal action. This plan, however, was quickly abandoned due to disagreements over costs.
When piracy eats into profits and when real dollars are being lost to piracy, it’s no surprise that people are trying so hard to stop it. But is piracy as bad as people make it out to be? HBO CEO, Jeff Bewkes, thinks otherwise. Bewkes even admits that the Game of Thrones piracy is doing good for the cable television company.
CEO, Jeff Bewkes states:
“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.”
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And true to that, despite existent piracy concerns, Game of Thrones continues to grow in ratings. As reported by Indiewire, the series’ season 6 premiere on April 24, 2016 drew 7.94 million viewers; and Sunday’s emotional episode, “The Door”, drew 7.89 million, despite being leaked early on torrenting sites – it was the 4th highest in the series’ history right after “Mother’s Mercy”, “The Wards to Come”, and “The Red Woman.”
We don’t realise that pirates can be an alternative avenue for marketing. They help drive exposure and awareness, as well as build hype, interest, and most importantly, word-of-mouth. In this sense, pirates are very much like advertisers or marketers, and companies are getting their services and reaping the benefits without having to pay a single cent. Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars, possibly even millions, purely on advertising and marketing alone. By having pirates do the work for them, they can save a few bucks on their marketing efforts and spend where spending is needed.
Lose the hate and embrace your pirates, because they might be of more use to you than you think.
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