Just weeks before the third season of HBO’s prized drama “Game of Thrones” returns to the airwaves, network executives have announced their plans to combat the widespread illegal downloading that made “Thrones” the most pirated show of 2012.
HBO’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Jeff Cusson, speaking with Forbes, admitted the network has to do more to make “Game of Thrones” available to a wanting public. Critics have attacked the premium cable network for being slow to make its programs available internationally on the HBO Go subscription and elsewhere online.
“We think the key to combating piracy is to make the content like ‘Game of Thrones’ available worldwide within the smallest window possible … to 176 territories within the week of the U.S. premiere,” he said. “HBO is also rolling out HBO Go internationally,” meaning viewers in Europe, Latin America and Hong Kong will now be able to stream the show on devices besides their computer.
Last year each episode of the show, based on the fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin about warring families during the Middle Ages, averaged 4.28 million downloads. That number was nearly half of the 10.3 million average viewers who watched on television, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which made it the third most-watched show in the history of HBO.
But the piracy issue has been a major talking point for those involved with the show. During the promotional tour that’s been leading up to the March 31 premiere, the press has asked the cast what they think of the illegal downloading. Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister, said he wasn’t exactly proud of the “most pirated” designation.
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“There is a little part of you where you go, yes, we’re the most pirated. But then you go, this is really bad isn’t it,” he told the BBC. “At the end of the day it’s stealing. I know it doesn’t feel like it but it is, and it’s not right.”
“I suppose it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment, isn’t it?” said Rose Leslie, the actress who portrays Ygritte. “I don’t think HBO will be too happy, but yes, one way or another that’s a huge compliment. Not just to me but to the show as a whole.”
Watch a trailer for the upcoming season below.