In Perspective - HBO’s Tywin Lannister maneuvers

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 10:53pm
Brian Santo

HBO is inviting piracy.

CED's Brian SantoHow much is “Game of Thrones” worth? Worth paying for? Or only worth pirating?

The question was raised in the popular Web-based comic “I tried to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and this is what happened”; pursued in a widely read blog post entitled “Help! I’m being forced to pirate ‘Game of Thrones’ against my will!”; and ended up being discussed on Wired in a piece with the shockingly improbable title of “The nimble empire: In defense of cable.” I mean, who defends cable?

But I digress. …

The comic strip observes (and the blog item reinforces) that many people find it equally unreasonable to fork over $80 a month for a cable subscription, buy/rent the full seasons for $40, or wait for months and months.

Then there’s piracy. Free + instant gratification = an attractive alternative.

Of course, whining that you can’t get what you want right now for a price you’re willing to pay is a fatuous and immature argument for what is essentially theft. Wired lays out that case and goes on to explain why $100 a month is actually a pretty good value.

The question hits close to home because I do not subscribe to HBO, love “Game of Thrones,” don’t think it is worth $40 to buy, hated waiting months to watch Season 1 (on Netflix DVD), and given all that feel aggrieved having to wait more months to see Season 2.

Because when you get right down to it, the prices HBO sets to see only “Game of Thrones” are too high, enough so that they are inviting piracy.Worse, they know it.

While a premium pricing strategy is thoroughly legal, it is silly; the quality is in the programming, not the pricing. So complaining about the piracy you know is inevitable is just as fatuous. The music industry figured out how to price music to encourage legal purchases and minimize theft, and the people at HBO are not stupid.

One proof of that (as Wired points out) is that HBO is in a much stronger position than the record labels were 10 years ago, but should it ever stumble and fall like the music companies did, its misfortune will be met with the exact same lack of tears.


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