HBO's hit series Game of Thrones is one of the most downloaded shows on television. By some accounts, it's the most pirated show around.
And apparently, not everyone at HBO thinks that this is completely terrible.
HBO programming head Michael Lombardo recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly, and referred to the rampant Game of Thrones piracy as a "compliment of sorts." Also, it's not really hurting DVD sales.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” Lombardo told EW. “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.”
Lombardo also confirmed that per season, Game of Thrones is HBO's #1 money machine.
Delving deeper in to the issue of piracy, Lombardo cited a concern that doesn't have anything to do with HBO's bottom line. He worried that viewers who download the show may be seeing an inferior product.
“One of my worries is about the copies [downloaders are] seeing. The production values of this show are so incredible. So I’m hoping that in the purloined different generation of cuts that the show is holding up.”
This isn't HBO condoning the piracy of one of its most-popular shows. He make a point to remind us that HBO still attempts to stop piracy when it can. But, they "haven’t sent out the Game of Thrones police.”
Lombardo isn't the first person associated with HBO to talk about piracy in this manner. Last month, frequent HBO director David Petrarca (GoT, Big Love, True Blood) hinted that shows like Game of Thrones rely on "cultural buzz," and that downloading is part of that.
He quickly backtracked those comments, saying that Game of Thrones piracy was only a signifier of its popularity, not a cause of it.
HBO had this to say in the wake of that:
"Game of Thrones is sold worldwide, available legally on a large variety of viewing platforms and is one of HBO’s most popular series. With that kind of success comes a great amount of social media chatter, so can’t say we see an upside to illegal downloads."
While we're not seeing any monumental shift in the way one of the top cable content providers around views piracy, we are seeing a shift in how some people associated with that content think about it. Of course, if you're serious about combatting piracy, ease of access to content usually helps - and this is something that HBO has been accused of failing on recently. Last month, HBO CEO Richard Plepler hinted that just maybe, HBO may offer HBO GO apart from cable subscriptions - possibly as a bundle with an ISP.