According to Forbes, HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones is on track to become the most pirated TV show of 2012. The show is awesome and people want to be able to watch it but due to HBO’s usual tactics it is only available in the US through cable. Sure you can get it in Canada and other countries if you want to watch it a season behind the US viewers and have everything spoiled for you. Piracy is a service problem. For a lot of people, even if you are in the US, the only option is to watch Game of Thrones on your TV either live or through your DVR. Not having other formats like streaming or downloading available drives people to piracy but the studios still just don’t get it.
When you can’t get your favourite show through on demand streaming or purchase it from iTunes or a la carte from your cable provider what is a person supposed to do? If I could pay a bit of money for each season up front of Game of Thrones and be able to download an unencumbered DRM-free version to play wherever I would like I would gladly do that. But I can’t.
HBO is missing out on a huge potential paying audience here. HBO Go, their streaming service, only works if you have HBO on cable – a move that is only going halfway to meet the needs of consumers.
Again instead of thinking about ways that technology can help bring in new emerging markets the creators of content are instead focussing on fighting piracy through DRM and legislation. Which is silly because the piracy is their own cause. It’s not that they have to compete with ‘free’. They have to just provide the service that people want and then people will gladly pay for that service.