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Record Piracy for Game of Thrones Premiere

Record Piracy for Game of Thrones Premiere

The Sunday night season 3 premiere of HBO's fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" broke the existing record for piracy when fans worldwide downloaded the show en mass. It illustrates just how successful the show is and how much more additional revenue could be made with wider distribution. This point was addressed by Michael Lombardo, HBO programming president, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

"I probably shouldn't be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts," Lombardo said prior to the season 3 premier. "The demand is there. And it certainly didn't negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network."

Trying to avoid the public relations fallout from targeting consumers, see the RIAA as an example of what not to do, the network doesn't plan on pursuing legal action against individual viewers. Viewers such as those who used BitTorrent to download the season premiere.

A record 163,000 clients, people using a torrent application, were simultaneously downloading the episode at its peak. More than 1 million clients downloaded the episode within 24 hours of its airing according to piracy tracking web site TorrentFreak. Prior to the "Game of Thrones" premiere, the 2008 season 3 premiere of "Heroes" held the record with 145,000 simultaneous downloads.

This record breaking event was to be expected. Previous statements by TorrentFreak listed "Game of Thrones" as 2012's most pirated show with 4.3 million downloads of the season 2 finale alone. Coming in at a distant second was Showtime's "Dexter" with a half-million fewer downloads.

Given that most analysis conducted not only debunks the myth that piracy hurts the entertainment industry but actually leads to more revenue this seems like a missed opportunity for HBO. Currently only HBO subscribers, either through cable or the HBO Go app, can see it's content. How many more millions are being left on the table due to this exclusivity?