According to Torrent Freak the number of illegal downloads of Game of Thrones is over 5.2 million, nearly reaching the amount of 5.5 million legal HBO viewers. The fact that GoT took the prize is no real surprise, but the percentage increase of illegal downloads being up nearly 25 percent year on year might raise a few eyebrows.
Despite the fast tracking of TV shows from the US, Australia is still months behind the play. Without paid TV services like Foxtel, the show is often unavailable to the average fan. Piracy is often the result of a lack of access, not an unwillingness to pay. If HBO and paid TV services allowed a pay as you go or an on demand service they would see the number of illegal downloads dropping significantly.
The issue of piracy could represent a massive opportunity in the TV industry to increase their audience and reach. The best example of this shift to a pay as you go service is in the music industry with companies like Spotify and other music streaming services enjoying success and gaining considerable market share. The question is if people are willing to pay for a music streaming service like Spotify rather than illegally downloading music, does this mean they would also buy television and movies in the same way?
To view Game of Thrones legally in Australia you will need Foxtel. This will cost a couple of hundred dollars for installation plus an excess of $50 per month for the service. You can see why many people can’t afford or aren’t willing to do this.
Director David Petrarca said at the Perth Writers Festival that the cultural buzz created by these illegal downloader’s partly influences others to tune into the show legally. This suggests that companies like HBO and paid TV services have more to lose than gain by switching their current strategies.