CNET is reporting that Sunday night’s Game of Thrones season finale, which was seen by 7.1 million people on HBO during its first run, broke yet another piracy record. It was downloaded 1.5 million times in its first 12 hours, which is to say, it’s downloaded by considerably more people than actually watch Girls on HBO. That’s 1.5 million who somehow couldn’t find someone to loan them their HBO Go Password, which is to say, when final ratings (including re-airs, HBO GO, DVR viewings, and those who pirate it after 12 hours) come in, I’m pretty sure that everyone in the world over the age of 18 will have seen the Game of Thrones finale. That’s just simple math.
But let’s just assume that the 1.5 million people, instead of downloading the episode illegally, did something even stranger: They paid to watch Game of Thrones. A three-months subscription will run about $35, and buying the season on iTunes will cost, on average, about $30 in the US, Australia, and the UK, where most the piracy is happening. That’s roughly $45 million in lost revenue.
And what is it that George R.R. Martin told the NYTimes last week? That he wishes each season were 13 episodes instead of 10? But, he said, he understand that it’s very expensive to produce Game of Thrones, at about $60-$70 million per season.
Well, if the people who pirated Game of Thrones had paid for it, instead, there’d be plenty of extra dough in the coffers to produce another three episodes per season. I guess the question is: Is it worth it? And do we really want three more episodes per season?
On the other hand, HBO’s CEO still thinks that illegally downloading Game of Thrones is really a “compliment of sorts,” which maybe is just another way of saying: We got all the money we need, bro.