Game of Thrones is Most Pirated TV Show For Second Year

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Game of Thrones is Most Pirated TV Show For Second Year

The season 3 finale of Game of Thrones has been downloaded more than 5.9 million times.

Last year it was determined that among the countless TV shows being passed around illegally on the internet, HBO's Game of Thrones was easily the most prominent, with each episode being downloaded nearly 4 million times. Now, it's been revealed by the folks at TorrentFreak that these numbers have only expanded in the year following and that, once again, Game of Thrones is the reigning king of illegally downloaded televised media.

Point in case, the season 3 finale was downloaded a whopping 5.9 million times with the season's totals handily beating competitors like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. While these results aren't shocking given the show's simultaneous popularity and arguable inaccessibility, its creators at HBO have been surprisingly unconcerned. Back in August, HBO CEO Jeff Hawkes said that this kind of piracy "leads to more paying [subscriptions]" and that Game of Thrones being the world's most pirated show is "better than an Emmy."

While we're not necessarily going to agree with that stance or say we think it's okay to illegally view a show like this, it's not to understand why so many might go that route. Game of Thrones often isn't an easy show to watch. Viewing it legally on television flat out requires a pricey subscription to HBO. Beyond that your only other options are HBO Go, which again requires a subscription, and waiting for the next set of DVDs to come out. Keep in mind that season three ended this past June and won't be coming out for retail purchase until February 2014. Again, we're not saying that piracy is right, but you could definitely argue that HBO hasn't made legal viewing too easy.

Source: TorrentFreak

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What about an iTunes season pass? You get the episodes pretty soon after they air, I'm pretty sure. That's how my family watched The Walking Dead and that's how I used to watch Game of Thrones before I stopped.

As long as HBO tries to force its ancient draconian subscription model, those numbers will only increase.

It's a pretty impressive feat. It is a clear indication towards the popularity of the show. If I ask around it is generally accepted to be the best show of the moment. But as has been pointed out: a (large) part of these downloads is thanks to the difficulty of watching the show legally. Still: impressive.

Disclaimer: I don't approve of illegal downloading (just to be sure :P)

I'd like to know how many downloads come from non-US markets. I'm pretty sure iTunes is the only way to view the show outside of the States and if you don't want to use that service, well you're flat out of luck. There's a reason piracy is so rampant in countries like Australia, especially when you consider we don't even have Netflix, Hulu etc.

It's funny how Escapist is scared to death of commenting on piracy. :)

I can't use Netflix or HBO in my region, and all local services force translation.

Last I knew, online streaming of Game of Thrones was only available through a subscription to the HBO online service. I can't justify signing up for HBO TV service for one show (there's nothing else on HBO I care to watch), and owning DVDs is just gauche these days.

Then again, all of those options are better than torrenting a grainy, out-of-sync pirated copy.

I'm one of those good boys who wait until the blu-ray.
That said it is on Itunes if really wanted it now.

Although if it was on Xbox Video in Australia then I would have probably gotten in that way, I buy Walking Dead now though Xbox Video.

Drummodino:
There's a reason piracy is so rampant in countries like Australia, especially when you consider we don't even have Netflix, Hulu etc.

We have Quickflix here in Australia which pretty much does the same thing, although like nobody uses it.

If it was on my video streaming service (Lovefilm) then I'd watch it in a heartbeat. As it stands I can't (I think) and will not pay for another TV subscription just for one program, and I refuse to buy anything from iTunes.

I'm happy to wait and buy the DVD's season by season down the road, but I can definitely understand why people wouldn't and just pirate it.

I also think that them making it more accessible at this point would only hurt their subscriptions. Millions of people have become so used to not paying for it, why would they now?

It's understandable. HBO cost way to much and is rarely worth it. Same goes for Starz. I think the package for HBO is 25-30 dollars for my provider for about five stations.

The_R3d_Fury:
What about an iTunes season pass? You get the episodes pretty soon after they air, I'm pretty sure. That's how my family watched The Walking Dead and that's how I used to watch Game of Thrones before I stopped.

Nope. HBO doesn't sell Game of Thrones on any service until February of the year after the season is over. Season 2 got released to iTunes, Amazon, and the like on the same day as the DVDs were released, back in February of this year. As the OP said, season 3 won't be available for anyone until February of 2014, right in time for season 4 to start in March. So if you're like me, someone who doesn't own a television set at all, much less has a cable subscription, and certainly doesn't have any premium channels on top of her nonexistent cable subscription, you start to understand why piracy is so appealing for that show.

I've been letting my mother use my Amazon account to watch the first two seasons, and she's asking me every week why I don't have season three yet. I would happily pay HBO the full cost of the season up front if they'd release the episodes a few days after they aired on TV to iTunes or Amazon, but it seems they'd rather hold out hope that Game of Thrones is good enough to make me go out and buy a television, and get cable as well as their channel just to watch it. Spoiler: It isn't. I won't pirate it, but this process certainly isn't earning HBO any points with me.

I have no problem with copyright, as long as copyright holders and their apologists don't try to pretend that it's some sort of moral right, but admit that it's just a government-granted monopoly.

The reason why copyright exists is to promote artistic output. If here we have a case where IGNORING copyright increases the payment gained by creative work, PLUS it means more value to be accessed by the public, that kind of begs the question why the hell we need to extend copyright to that in the first place.

Well, that's what they get for not offering reasonable avenues of purchase through digital means...like every other show on TV. I don't own cable, so the shows I watch are through digital subscriptions. I don't personally pirate stuff, but I can see how making non-HBO/non-cable-having audiences wait for the DVD release date just because you want to hold onto an archaic, proprietary streaming process would make some people impatient.

If they actually allowed me to pay for HBOGo without the necessity to have a cable bill, I'd be all for that. Last I checked, though, it's only available through a confirmed cable provider.

In a lot of cases I don't understand tv piracy.

I pay a tv license to watch tv but I can't watch something 'cos it isn't shown in my country I have to what? I can understand if it's a subscription package thing though.

Lets take a show I love, misfits. Unless I buy the dvds, I can watch it on 4OD or I can pirate it, what is the difference? One is illegal and the other isn't 'cos on the legal one I am forced to watch ads?

omega 616:
In a lot of cases I don't understand tv piracy.

I pay a tv license to watch tv but I can't watch something 'cos it isn't shown in my country I have to what? I can understand if it's a subscription package thing though.

Lets take a show I love, misfits. Unless I buy the dvds, I can watch it on 4OD or I can pirate it, what is the difference? One is illegal and the other isn't 'cos on the legal one I am forced to watch ads?

The ads are irrelevent. It's simply that channel 4 is allowed to show you the programs they have, and the places you can pirate it from don't. The advertisments are just there to earn them money.

I know this might sound crazy, but not all of those "illegal downloads" come from people who can't watch the show.

See, I'm subscribed to HBO (or rather, this house is) and I watch the episodes as they air. Yet I still want to have the episodes on my computer...

MinionJoe:
Then again, all of those options are better than torrenting a grainy, out-of-sync pirated copy.

Riiiight... Like, the only way to pirate a show is to film the screen? In 2013? Are you serious?

You know, I won't say I have any pirated copies myself, but on a purely technical level:

If the episodes can be broadcast, displayed and recorded (by PVRs/Capture Cards) in 720p/1080i with no "grain" (as if any part of that pipeline uses film... ha) and proper sync, then that is what the pirates will use. They'll put it in a nice H.264 format in an MKV container and off to bittorrent.

And all of that ignores the existence of the iTunes copies. Those are of even better quality than the broadcast and the pirates can just take those, rip out the DRM, and share that.

I watch Game of Thrones off my girlfriend's family's subscription on HBOgo.

I feel like I'm pirating considering how the video game industry makes me feel these days. chills.

By the way, I think her dad bullies the Comcast customer service into giving them HBO and other channels. Just threaten to end your subscription.

I think in all those cases, Australia was the biggest offender. Most people can't afford the $80AU a month for the monopolistic pay t.v service nor have the Internet speeds/data capable of streaming at any watchable quality. So for many, the only option is piracy.

Since our ideal national broadband scheme is dead (thanks Abbot, ya dick), maybe we can get Google to install theirs here now?

Well TV in general in my area is piss poor. Not only would i have to pay for a monthly sub but a yearly LICENCE to watch TV. Netflix UK is pathetic and so is LoveFilm. For example on netflix the tv show WEEDS has 8 seasons and ended in 2013. Yet Netflix somthing im paying for only has the first 3. They have StarTrek next generation, but no movies or other starTrek shows. Walking Dead and Game of Thrones both very popular and yet both are not on NetFlix. How about they stop being greedy assholes and make it worth paying a monthly fee for......

I mean there is a fucking tv show about people watching fucking tv, how low are we that watching other people watch tv is a fucking real show. Plus i gotta watch weeks if not months most of the time. So why bother, books and gaming are fine for me. Dvd/Blu-Ray. no bullshit adverts, watch when the fuck i want.

008Zulu:

Since our ideal national broadband scheme is dead (thanks Abbot, ya dick), maybe we can get Google to install theirs here now?

While we all have issues with Abbott, I was skeptical that the original plan was ever going to fully work.
The whole NBN was in tatters by the time Liberals got voted in.

When it comes to the crunch, it seems the free option beats the over priced one every time.
And the same is true for all media, as piracy is far more convenient than legitimacy these days.

As Princess Leia said to Grand Moff Tarkin "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers"

The same can be said for Broadcasters and Publishers; If you put up a wall (subscriptions), then people will try and get around it.
It's simple enough. Just saying.

vdrandom:
It's funny how Escapist is scared to death of commenting on piracy.

Remember folks, Piracy is Illegal, talking about it isn't.

I remember a time when if something wasn't available in your area or you didn't have the money you went without. Go ahead and bitch about it all you want, just remember that when you defend piracy you're not helping your situation.

jackpipsam:
I'm one of those good boys who wait until the blu-ray.
That said it is on Itunes if really wanted it now.

Although if it was on Xbox Video in Australia then I would have probably gotten in that way, I buy Walking Dead now though Xbox Video.

Drummodino:
There's a reason piracy is so rampant in countries like Australia, especially when you consider we don't even have Netflix, Hulu etc.

We have Quickflix here in Australia which pretty much does the same thing, although like nobody uses it.

Oh that thing... I've seen that on my PS3 menu bar. Does it actually have any shows worth watching though? And how quickly are they released on it?

Kheapathic:
I remember a time when if something wasn't available in your area or you didn't have the money you went without. Go ahead and bitch about it all you want, just remember that when you defend piracy you're not helping your situation.

If the service provider refuses to provide service to me and let me pay for it, I see it as an invitation to piracy. It's awesome that these services have to compete with pirates, you know why? Because services can win if they really try. I mean, look at Steam ffs.

And if, by chance, any media company representative reads this, I'll repeat Gabe's words again: piracy is a service problem.

If you improve, or, to begin with, start providing your service in a region, your product will be less pirated and more purchased there. I'd be more than happy to pay for an HBO subscription or Netflix. Or buy DRM free audiobooks on audible.com, but they refuse me the service, or the service I find acceptable. Instead, I have to deal with non-on demand content from TV, forced voice over translation, buy physical copies, or encounter DRM protected formats with no way to consume the product on my platform.

Google started selling music in my region and I jumped right in, spending money on the music I wasn't able to purchase before. Before I've purchased my first game on steam, I used to play pirated video games and now all the games I play are legally purchased, so bloody yes, I will bitch about it.

EightGaugeHippo:

vdrandom:
It's funny how Escapist is scared to death of commenting on piracy.

Remember folks, Piracy is Illegal, talking about it isn't.

Yeah, but forum rules say otherwise:

...posts including, advocating, or linking to illegal or adult material are a very quick way to end your time as part of The Escapist community. An example of these are: Piracy...

Which I interpret as "Say something good about piracy and be banned".

vdrandom:

EightGaugeHippo:

vdrandom:
It's funny how Escapist is scared to death of commenting on piracy.

Remember folks, Piracy is Illegal, talking about it isn't.

Yeah, but forum rules say otherwise:

...posts including, advocating, or linking to illegal or adult material are a very quick way to end your time as part of The Escapist community. An example of these are: Piracy...

Which I interpret as "Say something good about piracy and be banned".

It's true, I've seen people on this forum who made comments in support of piracy, get moderated for it.

In fact, I've seen cases, in threads about piracy, where one entire side of the argument (the side supporting it) has been moderated, and the other side has been left completely alone.

In any case, official Escapist news threads about piracy are not uncommon:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/tags/piracy

vdrandom:

Kheapathic:
I remember a time when if something wasn't available in your area or you didn't have the money you went without. Go ahead and bitch about it all you want, just remember that when you defend piracy you're not helping your situation.

If the service provider refuses to provide service to me and let me pay for it, I see it as an invitation to piracy. It's awesome that these services have to compete with pirates, you know why? Because services can win if they really try. I mean, look at Steam ffs.

And if, by chance, any media company representative reads this, I'll repeat Gabe's words again: piracy is a service problem.

If you improve, or, to begin with, start providing your service in a region, your product will be less pirated and more purchased there. I'd be more than happy to pay for an HBO subscription or Netflix. Or buy DRM free audiobooks on audible.com, but they refuse me the service, or the service I find acceptable. Instead, I have to deal with non-on demand content from TV, forced voice over translation, buy physical copies, or encounter DRM protected formats with no way to consume the product on my platform.

Google started selling music in my region and I jumped right in, spending money on the music I wasn't able to purchase before. Before I've purchased my first game on steam, I used to play pirated video games and now all the games I play are legally purchased, so bloody yes, I will bitch about it.

You can parrot Gabe all you want, but while you see it as a service problem I see it as a behavioral problem. As I said above there was a time when people went without. I also know plenty of people who prefer to pirate media just because it doesn't cost them money, despite living in a country with constant net access and the availability of Steam. Just because there is legal access to it doesn't mean everyone's going to pay for it, because there are always plenty of people out there looking to get what they can without expense.

Drummodino:

jackpipsam:

Drummodino:
There's a reason piracy is so rampant in countries like Australia, especially when you consider we don't even have Netflix, Hulu etc.

We have Quickflix here in Australia which pretty much does the same thing, although like nobody uses it.

Oh that thing... I've seen that on my PS3 menu bar. Does it actually have any shows worth watching though? And how quickly are they released on it?

I'm also curious as a fellow Australian. I've never heard of quickflix before.

OT: Well not too surprising with how popular the show is and the fact the story has yet to resolve. Breaking bad was the only thing I could see topping it but that's over, game of thrones isn't and boobs also help in popularity.

jackpipsam:
While we all have issues with Abbott, I was skeptical that the original plan was ever going to fully work.
The whole NBN was in tatters by the time Liberals got voted in.

It was going to work, but most people were aware of the unspoken word that it was going to be over budget and late.

Aris Khandr:

The_R3d_Fury:
What about an iTunes season pass? You get the episodes pretty soon after they air, I'm pretty sure. That's how my family watched The Walking Dead and that's how I used to watch Game of Thrones before I stopped.

Nope. HBO doesn't sell Game of Thrones on any service until February of the year after the season is over. Season 2 got released to iTunes, Amazon, and the like on the same day as the DVDs were released, back in February of this year. As the OP said, season 3 won't be available for anyone until February of 2014, right in time for season 4 to start in March. So if you're like me, someone who doesn't own a television set at all, much less has a cable subscription, and certainly doesn't have any premium channels on top of her nonexistent cable subscription, you start to understand why piracy is so appealing for that show.

I've been letting my mother use my Amazon account to watch the first two seasons, and she's asking me every week why I don't have season three yet. I would happily pay HBO the full cost of the season up front if they'd release the episodes a few days after they aired on TV to iTunes or Amazon, but it seems they'd rather hold out hope that Game of Thrones is good enough to make me go out and buy a television, and get cable as well as their channel just to watch it. Spoiler: It isn't. I won't pirate it, but this process certainly isn't earning HBO any points with me.

Seriously? I could swear I was watching GoT week by week as it came out.

Doesn't surprise me considering that it's gotten so huge on the internet, while no channels apart from HBO shows it. I managed to see it during a two week trial and the show sure as hell didn't disappoint. Every episode has a movie-like quality.
And boobs. So much boobs!

The_R3d_Fury:
Seriously? I could swear I was watching GoT week by week as it came out.

I can't speak for season one, since I got in on the whole thing late, but that's how two and three are working. It is also possible that they brought the earlier seasons to Australia so late that the DVDs were already available in the US, so they allowed iTunes to sell it like a normal TV show.

DanielBrown:
And boobs. So much boobs!

Don't you mean wieners? :p

Doesn't surprise me. HBO's hilariously bad subscription process for their streaming videos is a convoluted mess that requires a cable subscription to the channels just to get off the ground, and Game of Thrones is a good time. I'm generally fine to wait 'til the DVDs come, and then collect them, though I admit to being too weak to wait for some of the more Jaime-centric episodes.

Kheapathic:
You can parrot Gabe all you want, but while you see it as a service problem I see it as a behavioral problem. As I said above there was a time when people went without. I also know plenty of people who prefer to pirate media just because it doesn't cost them money, despite living in a country with constant net access and the availability of Steam. Just because there is legal access to it doesn't mean everyone's going to pay for it, because there are always plenty of people out there looking to get what they can without expense.

Don't be childish, if those people don't want to pay for it, they won't no matter if they can get pirated content or not. And if they encounter barriers on their way, they'll just turn around and leave it be.

What pisses me off is that attitude which leads to restrictive DRM systems enforced on those who didn't break the law to begin with. That nonsense presumption of guilt bestowed on people who should have all the right to enjoy the content they paid for on any platform they wish.

Every time I fire up a game that requires me to enter a CD Key, or verify an account with an internet connection, I feel like I'm considered a criminal. Like there is a police man standing behind my back checking my every step.

And my point is not that piracy is good, but the ways content publishers try to fight it are bad. Because instead of making it more valuable for users to pay for the content than to download it from some torrent tracker, they put barriers in front of those who are willing to pay and enforce laws that can be easily exploited.

vdrandom:

Kheapathic:
You can parrot Gabe all you want, but while you see it as a service problem I see it as a behavioral problem. As I said above there was a time when people went without. I also know plenty of people who prefer to pirate media just because it doesn't cost them money, despite living in a country with constant net access and the availability of Steam. Just because there is legal access to it doesn't mean everyone's going to pay for it, because there are always plenty of people out there looking to get what they can without expense.

Don't be childish, if those people don't want to pay for it, they won't no matter if they can get pirated content or not. And if they encounter barriers on their way, they'll just turn around and leave it be.

What pisses me off is that attitude which leads to restrictive DRM systems enforced on those who didn't break the law to begin with. That nonsense presumption of guilt bestowed on people who should have all the right to enjoy the content they paid for on any platform they wish.

Every time I fire up a game that requires me to enter a CD Key, or verify an account with an internet connection, I feel like I'm considered a criminal. Like there is a police man standing behind my back checking my every step.

And my point is not that piracy is good, but the ways content publishers try to fight it are bad. Because instead of making it more valuable for users to pay for the content than to download it from some torrent tracker, they put barriers in front of those who are willing to pay and enforce laws that can be easily exploited.

How am I being childish, by taking in the information available to me and forming my own thoughts and opinion? Or is it because I don't bow down and listen to Gabe? Of course they won't pay for it, so whether or not something is available or even if it's at an available price they still won't pay for it. Thank you for agreeing with me that it's more a behavioral problem and not a service problem.

Kheapathic:
How am I being childish, by taking in the information available to me and forming my own thoughts and opinion? Or is it because I don't bow down and listen to Gabe? Of course they won't pay for it, so whether or not something is available or even if it's at an available price they still won't pay for it. Thank you for agreeing with me that it's more a behavioral problem and not a service problem.

The most childish thing here is the way you jump at me for quoting Gabe. I'm not aware why you hate him and me for quoting him. :)

Also, I'm saying that there are both problems, but you and a lot of publishers there are focusing on the wrong one.

while you can convert people affected by service problems to paying customers by adding value to your service and making it more available, there is no way you can convert those who are not going to pay anyway. That's what I've been saying all along: the ways content publishers try to fight piracy are wrong. Focus on service quality and availability, not on monopolizing your content and stripping out of money those who were unlucky to get caught sharing it with someone. Oh well, it's easier to lobby exploitable laws and enforce draconian policies on both creators and consumers of your content than to make your service better for them. Cheaper: just let the state figure out the laws and carry out punishments.

I'm not sure if can make my point any clearer.

But sure, my opinion is completely invalid because I've mentioned Gabe and happen to agree with him.

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