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.