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HBO Had The Most Pirated Show Of 2013 -- Here's Why It's Thrilled

Game of thrones robb starkHBO / Helen Sloan

“Game of Thrones” is the most pirated show on television, we learned last week.

In most businesses, piracy is cause for alarm. It’s a leaky hole in your bucket of money!

But HBO is looking at things in a rather different light — people “steal” the show due to its incredible popularity, and they do it more for “GoT” than they do for other heavy hitters like “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead.”

In short, HBO is looking at things through a scope where piracy equals free marketing.

“If you go to people who are watching [“Game of Thrones”] without subs, it’s a tremendous word-of-mouth thing,” Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, told Adweek.

“We’ve been dealing with this for 20, 30 years — people sharing subs, running wires down the backs of apartment buildings. Our experience is that it leads to more paying subs. I think you’re right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. That’s better than an Emmy.”

So, the bottom line?

Even if HBO caved to demand and offered its streaming HBO GO service for a monthly fee a la Netflix, or allowed you to pay for individual episodes through iTunes the day after air, it wouldn’t have much of an affect on piracy. And in a bizarre way, piracy is a good thing for HBO because it drums up buzz for its new shows.

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