James Hibberd writing for InsideTV on Game of Thrones:
The show’s second season was recently released to record-setting DVD sales for the network. But in December, Thrones topped another chart that is far more dubious — Thrones ranked as the most illegally downloaded TV series for 2012. “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” Lombardo said. “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
There is little doubt that the production value of Game of Thrones ranks as one of the best in the current episodic TV landscape. Sets are immaculate, costume are lavish, VFX are some of the best in TV today. So HBO is struggling with a supply and demand issue. They have a demanded TV show, but how they supply that product amounts to a sharply constricted only on a paid cable/satellite HBO subscription model. As the internet has risen, more people (myself included) have cut the TV cable to our houses. The internet (or Netflix DVD) provides us the access to content and not all are willing to wait a full year to see the episodes on disc. Piracy is their answer.
James concludes his piece:
Heavy Thrones piracy is likely due to several factors, such as the popularity of the show among young men (the show skews 58 percent male and the average fan is 41 years old) and HBO’s current digital distribution strategy. Though HBO subscribers can watch Thrones online via the network’s HBO GO service, you can only subscribe to HBO in the first place through a traditional cable or satellite provider and many younger TV fans are opting to “cut the cord.” A top HBO executive recently hinted that the network is contemplating a digital-only subscription option, a move that would likely reduce the amount of piracy of its shows.
This is one of the most succinct identifications of the piracy problem I've read. I couldn't help but include it on my site. James' conclusion makes me wonder if HBO does see the problem and will start to offer its app as a Netflix/Hulu like subscription model ($5-$10/month). I would be in line for that.