HBO is quite used to appearing in news articles related to piracy. Game of Thrones is one of the most viewed shows on their platform and the latest and final episode was watched by over 13.6 million people in the US alone. Obviously, pirate sites enjoyed even more attention.
As pointed out by Mumbrella, Australian viewers of the show pirated the latest episode more than viewers from other countries by far. What’s even more interesting: about 20% of people subscribed to Foxtel in Australia (and so had access to watch Game of Thrones legally) pirated the episode anyway.
HBO’s Game of Thrones managed to take the title of the most pirated TV show year after year during its long run. While the most important hurdle for viewers is availability, pricing still plays a huge role in piracy numbers. Game of Thrones is simply not available in every single country. However, paying hundreds of dollars to watch a single show has proved just too much for the vast majority of people even in countries with higher median incomes.
Sometimes, pirates managed to obtain episodes before they were aired meaning that some people who pirated those episodes watched them earlier than those who paid for an HBO subscription. In fact, when an episode of Game of Thrones was leaked in 2017, four people ended up in jail. In 2015, four out of ten episodes were leaked from a promotional event.
However, the piracy problem is not something absolutely negative for HBO. The company's representatives noticed that piracy creates cultural buzz around the show and allows it to gain even more attention from fans all across the globe.
The positives did not prevent HBO from attempting to shut down pirate websites and fight against BitTorrent sharers though. The company was not going out of its way to demolish pirates. Instead, HBO issued multiple takedown notices and took legal actions against most prominent pirates, but did not try to outdo themselves.
Some may argue that the company wants to keep the Game of Thrones’ title of the most pirated show ever. It could be a way to keep the buzz going despite mixed reviews and bitter reactions from fans disappointed with the underwhelming ending of the show.