Game of Thrones Season 5 Leak: Piracy and the Digital Media Paradigm

With the first four episodes of Game of Thrones Season 5 leaked online, is piracy simply filling a gap for the shifting paradigm of the people’s viewing habits?

On April 12, 2015, the first four full episodes -nearly half- of the fifth season of HBO’s popular show “Game of Thrones” were leaked on the internet and various Torrent sites. While Game of Thrones -the television series based on George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books- is among the most pirated content on the internet, the leak of four full unaired episodes has raised a lot of new concern regarding internet piracy.

In 2013, when the Game of Thrones season four premiere set a world record for illegal downloads, Time-Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes had famously said, “Our experience is [piracy] leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising… If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.”

Taking that into account, LaughingMan and CineMax are pondering whether the people are given a broader perspective in regards to online piracy. With the rise of online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Hulu, media-viewing habits have changed drastically. This includes, but is not limited to, the new habit of “binge watching” television shows. Additionally, many streaming services have become content producers; prime examples being Netflix’s exclusive series “Daredevil” and “House of Cards“.

So the questions are: Is online piracy filling a void that most cable and satellite providers and networks are reluctant to fill? If Netflix can create hit online shows where all episodes  are available for binge-watching from the start, what’s holding HBO back from releasing all of their Game of Thrones episodes on their own online steaming services, HBO GO and HBO Now? Exactly what the hell is HBO thinking by releasing timed exclusives of HBO Now to Apple’s iStore? How can companies better follow the new consumer viewing paradigm of immediate and convenient media set by the streaming content providers like Netflix and YouTube?

But it’s not just networks that are not adapting to changing paradigms. LaughingMan and CineMax raise even more questions with the practice of “exclusive movie trailers”. Whether it’s the “Agents of SHIELD” exclusive Avengers 2: Age of Ultron trailer, or it’s DC having people purchase IMAX tickets for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice“, does it make any sense in this day and age to LIMIT public exposure to ADVERTISEMENTS? Especially considering that the most recent Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens trailer has reached nearly 88 Million views within the first DAY of its release on YouTube?

Finally, the two cynics explore the possibilities of ala-carte cable and satellite programming, and the benefits of corporate Darwinism among the dregs of cable television programming: Ancient Aliens, Honey BooBoo, Lizard Lick Towing, Hard Core Pawn, and all of TruTV in general.


The loveable lunatic with the foul mouth and the iconic laugh, Laughingman is the founder of CCS. With more coffee than copper in his bloodstream, he's a full-time website developer by day, and a gamer, editor, and fiction writer by night.


A subversive excommunicated from [REDACTED] as a result of a failed coup d'etat, CineMax has miraculously managed to reach and find asylum in the Land of the Free. Here he spends his days working for Cheshire Cat Studios, all the while plotting his inevitable return to the motherland to once again foment the flames of revolution.

4 Comments on “Game of Thrones Season 5 Leak: Piracy and the Digital Media Paradigm

  1. Another great audio podcast. Still wanna punch DC by the balls and throw them into the pit while I pour gasoline all over it and watch them burn for pulling off such a bullshit idea for the Batman VS Superman trailer marketing. I still wish companies would wise up and use the piracy as a advantage for more exposure.

  2. While looking for potential publishing avenues for my works, I found how authors can use piracy to their advantage.

    I agree that obscurity is ultimately the enemy for writers (and other types of creators). I read how one author intentionally released his book on Russian torrents where it was read by thousands and created a lot of word-of-mouth publicity (on a side note, is that still piracy? I guess more like a “leak”).
    Anyways, something to consider.

    God, I hate when copyright issues (usually music related) interfere with shows being released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital. I purchased a old TV series (*cough*Bosom Buddies*cough*) and it didn’t come with the original theme its known for! Fox’s Werewolf is going through the same problem concerning music rights allegedly.

    In media, it is always those who adapt to technological trends who stay ahead of the pack.

    Great After-Hours, guys!

  3. Despite not watching the show myself, I know of it’s huge fan following, so obviously it didn’t surprise anyone when it ended up being one of the biggest pirated shows in the world. And you’ve stated before in your piracy podcast that it often opens the flood gates for thousands of others to join.
    However, in the case of something that’s already so big, I don’t know if this will end up hurting or helping the show.
    More often than not, piracy helps those who need exposure. A friend of mine just the other day found out his music was being published on to a torrent site and he was ecstatic because it meant his music was obviously enjoyed by enough people that they wanted it (despite him already offering it free on youtube).
    But for something as big and well known as GOT, it’s hard to tell where this will lead I think.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.