HBO is in full-on news-making mode gearing up for the fifth season premiere of its global smash hit Game of Thrones. First, they announced that their long-awaited Internet-only option, HBO Now, would be available on Apple TV in time for new episodes on April 12. Now today, according to VentureBeat, they’ve announced that the show will debut simultaneously in 170 countries, a feat the company has never before attempted. Why—and why now—probably has more than a little to do with piracy.
As recently as GoT‘s second season in 2012, most fans outside the U.S. couldn’t access the show legally. That year, an article on TorrentFreak noted a correlation between the week it took new episodes to reach Australia and comparatively higher piracy in that region.
It’s not like HBO just wanted to punish people who don’t live in the U.S. HBO broadcasts in so many different regions (HBO Asia, HBO Canada, HBO Latin America, and HBO Nordic, just to name a few) and has so many partner networks (M-Net in Africa, Foxtel in Australia, Telnet in Flemish Belgium, etc.) and licensing partners (BeTV in French Belgium, Intervision in Greece, Amedia in Russia, and so on) participating in the simulcast, says VentureBeat, the added convenience for our friends overseas is a Herculean effort for the cable network.
To date, HBO has taken few measures to combat piracy, leading GoT to become the most pirated show of 2014. (They even told Entertainment Weekly that they consider it to be a compliment of sorts. It’s a shrewd attitude given the blowback that Hollywood, the MPAA, and the games industry have taken for their aggressive anti-piracy measures. Says David Petrarca, one of the show’s directors, all the downloads may just contribute to the show’s buzziness.
Take away temptation to pirate with simultaneous release and give users a cheaper option has been the rallying cry of HBO detractors for a while now. Okay fans, you got what you wanted. Your move.