The upcoming stand-alone HBO app should help cut down on the problem
2014 was the year that it finally happened for me: I, after years of hearing about it and being told to watch it, got into Game of Thrones. And, let me tell you, it did not take very long for me to get it. I instantly became a fan. I mean, how can you not be?
Game of Thrones is, to put it mildly, a phenomenon, the type of show that gets big ratings and huge buzz (typically, these days, it seems to be one of the other. How many people do you know who watch Blue Bloods, the cop drama that was apparently the number 10 show in the country last year?). And for evidence of that, look no further than the fact that the show, for the third year in a row, was just named by TorrentFreak as the most pirated show on television for the third year in a row.
The season finale alone was downloaded more than 8 million times via BitTorrent. In 2013, the show was pirated 5.9 million times. And, once again, the number of illegal downloads eclipsed it's 7.1 million-person viewership.
So it's no wonder that HBO recently announced that it is going to be offering its own stand-alone streaming service, one that will not require its subscribers to have a cable subscription, as HBO's previous streaming service, HBO Go, did.
Many Game of Thrones fans are young and either they cannot afford a cable package, plus HBO, or they simply don't want one. With so much content showing up online, it just doesn't make economic sense for a lot of people to pay through the nose for a bunch of channels they don't want.
Personally, I have been muching HBO off of my girlfriend for a while now, but I might just sign up for the new HBO streaming site to binge the show.
The thinking for HBO has to be that those people, like me, will be more likely to pay for HBO if that is the only thing they have to pay for. Honestly, they're probably on the right track with that thinking. Even if people only sign up for the months that their favorite shows are on, be it Game of Thrones or... whatever other shows are currently on HBO, at least they will be making some money, rather than losing it to piracy.
So what were the other most pirated shows? It's a bit of a strange list, with a mix of cable hits and mainstream fare.
Behind Game of Thrones was the Walking Dead, the biggest cable hit of all time, which still only had 4.8 million downloads. Then came The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother (how many copies of that finale do you think were immediately deleted?), followed by Gotham, Arrow, Grey's Anatomy, with Vikings Suits and South Park closing out the top 10.
(Image source: asoiaf.westeros.org)