How HBO Is Dealing With Its Game Of Thrones Piracy Problem

HBO regularly scores impressive ratings thanks to shows like Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, the popularity of shows like Game of Thrones has meant that HBO has attracted a plethora of pirates over the years. Now that Season 6 of Thrones has begun, HBO is taking steps to deal with the piracy problem. The network is sending copyright infringement warnings to alleged pirates and requesting that sites take down torrents for HBO content at unprecedented rates.

HBO has been sending out warnings to the IP addresses of torrent users who had been caught sharing episodes of Game of Thrones. Those who did the sharing were asked to notify subscribers of the situation in order to stop any further infringements from happening. Requests that sites take down torrents are being issued at a faster pace than ever before as well, according to TorrentFreak, and some of the most popular torrent sites have been complying almost immediately. The expediency with which HBO has been reaching out to torrent sites indicates that its anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon has been keeping a close watch on the web before and after episodes air.

Interestingly, HBO isn’t just on the defensive with these warnings. In addition to requesting that sites take down torrents, the warnings have asked that downloaders be directed toward the legal options for catching HBO programming. The development of streaming service HBO Now means that fans of HBO programs have multiple options for viewing that don’t infringe on any copyright laws. Of course, HBO Now isn’t exactly free, and adding HBO to the general cable package isn’t cheap, so the network may have a hard time winning converts over to legal viewing.

Game of Thrones has been one of the most popular shows to pirate in recent years. Both 2014 and 2015 saw Thrones rank as the most heavily-pirated series on television. Season 5 got off to a rough start on the piracy front last year when the first four episodes were leaked online, and a later episode set a record for being illegally downloaded more than 2.2 million times in the first twelve hours after the live airing. HBO has taken steps to prevent a leak like the one that dropped almost half of Season 5 early when it stopped sending out hard copies of episodes ahead of time. At the very least, the pirates will have to wait until the episodes air to download.

Sadly for HBO, so much has been happening on Game of Thrones in Season 6 that most pirates are not going to want to give up on downloading. Hopefully, the live numbers will continue to impress despite the piracy.

To legally see what’s up next for the characters on Game of Thrones, be sure to tune in to HBO at 9 p.m. ET on Sundays. Check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what else you’ll be able to catch on the small screen.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).