March 11, 2015
The fifth season of HBO’s global hit series, “Game of Thrones” is slated to premiere in the U.S. on April 12. This time around, however, the cable network plans to broadcast the series simultaneously worldwide in an effort to combat piracy. When episodes air at 9:00 pm in New York, they will also air at 2:00 am in London and 9:00 am in Hong Kong. While the international air times may seem unusual, HBO hopes they will curtail the number of illegal downloads of what has become the most-pirated TV show in the world.
International consumers go to great lengths to watch “Game of Thrones,” and they do not like waiting while viewers in other markets already have access. Australia, for example, has become the largest source of piracy for the series.
“Episodes of the last season were aired only a couple of hours after the U.S. broadcast on domestic pay TV,” explains Quartz. “The problem is, in Australia most people don’t pay for TV, so they have no way to legitimately watch ‘Game of Thrones’ while it’s fresh.”
“Historically, U.S. shows have been delayed by weeks and months in the country, and a whole subculture of pirating content has sprung up, forcing broadcasters to fast-track shows at the expense of ratings.”
In the past, HBO has not been overly concerned with piracy, even suggesting that illegal downloads help generate publicity for its original programming. However, with the launch of its new Internet-only streaming service intended for cord cutters, the network could be changing its perspective.