Games of Thrones Season 5 has wrapped and the numbers are in. It was a record-breaker in many ways. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any spoilers: the entire internet has done that already. GoT has become HBO’s most popular show ever, last year surpassing the Sopranos. It’s clear that demand for this show is high, with 8.1 million people tuning in on June 14 for the finale.
In addition to the legal HBO subscribers, the show was illegally downloaded over 1.5 million times in first 8 hours following the release, and over 258,000 people were sharing the season 5 finale.
It’s well documented that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show of all time, and it keeps breaking it’s own previous records. Some of this piracy is due to the normal reason: people want it for free, and the relative anonymity of the internet enables that. Some piracy is more complicated – Australia leads the pack in per-capita piracy, largely due to how the availability of the show is limited in Australia, and while the unbundling of cable and HBO GO should help with this, some region-specific rules have prevented this from happening.
One thing is clear: the demand for this content is very high. As we move into a world of increasing options for content, the most successful companies will be the ones that produce sought after differentiated content. As “television” models change, unbundling continues, and online content continues to disrupt the exiting model, the companies that create and produce the best content will ultimately have the best chance at being successful.
Ultimately, technology may help here: streaming music has largely killed music piracy. As content shifts from a purchase model to an access model, it’s not a stretch to think that the same thing will ultimately change how we consume video.