Lessons Learned from 2012’s Most Pirated Show

Website Torrent Freak has named Game of Thrones as the most pirated show of 2012, with one unspecified episode netting nearly 4.3 million downloads.

Moral issues aside, what economic (dis)incentives might be in play?

…hundreds and thousands are downloading the show for free, although many would love to pay for it if HBO offered a standalone HBO GO subscription.

Game of Thrones (or GoT to those in the know) airs on HBO. If you subscribe to HBO, you can either watch the show when it airs, record it to watch later, or log into HBO GO and watch all episodes on demand. Simple, right?

Here’s the catch: you cannot access HBO GO without having a subscription to HBO. This is a classic example of pure bundling. And, of course, you can’t get an HBO subscription without a basic cable subscription.

So if you happen to love GoT, but don’t have–or don’t want–a cable subscription, you have no (legitimate) means to access the content even if you’re willing to pay for it. Ergo, piracy abounds.

I don’t have any insight on HBO’s cost structure or product marketing decisions, other than the current arrangement clearly must be sufficiently profitable in some internal calculus. I say this because HBO’s policy on pure bundling HBO GO has not changed, despite a grass-roots effort to make it more accessible.

Queen Cersei remains, for the moment, on the Iron Throne.

BOTTOM LINE: If you build it, make sure it’s easy for them to come and buy it.

‘Game of Thrones’ Most Pirated Show via Torrent Freak