HBO Wants Pirates To Up Their Game

You would assume HBO would be upset at the latest leaks of mega-show Game of Thrones. And they are. But not for the reason you think.

After episodes leaked online last weekend, millions of unauthorized BitTorrent downloads ensued. Yet HBO seems more concerned about “dozens” of people who streamed the show via the Twitter-owned Periscope app, a platform hardly known for its video quality.

Relative to past piracy incidents HBO’s response was relatively calm, with the company saying it was “actively assessing” how the breach had occurred. However, an event from another unexpected quarter elicited a much more strongly worded response.

But Australian news outlet Mumbrella reported that in the wake of gazillions of weekend BitTorrent downloads, literally “dozens” of people live-streamed the first episode of Game of Thrones to their friends as it aired in Australia.

Their platform of choice was Twitter’s Periscope app, which allows anyone to point a smartphone at anything and stream that content live to the world. Twitter was quick to respond, saying Periscope would terminate the user accounts of anyone “determined to be a repeat infringer.”

Considering the extremely low number of reportedly poor quality streams and the unstoppable piracy extravaganza already underway days before, it seemed unlikely the story would gain much traction. But for reasons best known to HBO, the company has now issued a more strongly worded statement on the Periscope streams than it did for the torrent leak on Saturday.

“We are aware of Periscope and have sent takedown notices,” an HBO spokeswoman confirmed in a statement. But then the twist.

“In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO added.

Does HBO have a certain May 2 event on its mind?

It’s difficult to know the media giant’s strategy, but neither BitTorrent nor Periscope appear to have hurt the Game of Thrones premiere. Despite four episodes already being widely available online, Sunday’s opener proved to be a series-best in the United States with 7.99 million viewers, once again showing that piracy does not hurt sales and instead helps them.

What’s likely is that HBO has something more on its mind: the May 2nd Mayweather fight.

HBO and rare partner Showtime will be charging a colossal $89.95 for a PPV pass, 40% more than the previous record set for a Mayweather fight in 2013. In addition, there won’t be an easy way to stream the event as live sports streaming sites are notoriously unreliable when compared to bittorrent.

One thing’s for sure: you can expect a lot more than “dozens” to point their periscopes and meerkats at the biggest fight in boxing history.

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