Not only is HBO’s Game of Thrones the most torrented show on TV today, the show’s season 4 finale has the bittersweet distinction of being the most pirated episode in TV history.
Historically, HBO has played nice with pirates. Whether its turning a blind eye towards BitTorrent or even ignoring the widespread sharing of HBO Go credentials, some folks at HBO, to their credit, view piracy as a tool to drum up even more interest in an already successful show.
To wit, Game of Thrones Director David Petarca once said of rampant GOT piracy, “I think it really raises the profile of the show and raises the profile of HBO in general… It really helps the show’s cultural buzz, and it does not impact the bottom line because HBO has more than enough money to keep making the show.”
But even HBO has to draw the line somewhere.
The season 5 premiere of GOT aired this past Sunday, prompting some enterprising Twitter users to live-stream the show via Periscope, the live streaming video app Twitter acquired for $100 million earlier this year. Wasting no time, HBO promptly sent takedown notices to Periscope.
In a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO said, “We are aware of Periscope and have sent takedown notices. In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications.”
Following that, Twitter has said it plans to look into the accounts of users found to be engaged in broadcasting copyrighted content and may permanently ban repeat offenders.
Periscope, of course, is just one of the many fronts on which HBO has to contend with piracy. Over the weekend, ahead of the season 5 premiere, the first four episodes of season 5 leaked online.
Piracy notwithstanding, the season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones was a bona-fide ratings home run, drawing in an estimated audience of 8 million viewers.