HBO has announced they have renewed "Game Of Thrones" for season 4. Why? It's all about the numbers. Sunday's season premiere was up a pretty staggering 13% over the season 2 premiere and 4% higher than the finale. Not too bad at all. Even more, reviews have been pretty positive (though we were less taken with the first episode) and all told, everyone is in love with this show that looks like it could be the cornerstone of the network for a while. And with viewership increasing, HBO is curiously not too worried about piracy, perhaps suggesting it has been a benefit.
Speaking with EW, programming President Michael Lombardo revealed that rips of the episodes haven't really hurt them. “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” he explained. “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.”
In fact, his biggest concern is about the quality of the bootlegs -- particularly as they are copied and converted over and over -- which may not capture the big money spent on each episode to bring George R.R. Martin's worlds to life. And while he says that HBO does try to knock out piracy when they see it, there is no concerted effort. "We obviously are a subscription service so as a general proposition so we try to stop piracy when we see it happen, particularly on a systematic basis when people are selling pirated versions,” Lombardi said, though he adds: “No, we haven’t sent out the 'Game of Thrones' police” when it comes to individuals tracking down an episode they might have missed.
It's further ammunition in the argument that piracy actually draws attention and viewers to a show, and certainly a provocative viewpoint from someone at a major network. No matter how you watch it, HBO is still the place to see "Game Of Thrones" first on Sunday. Here's a preview of next week's episode.