We caught a glimpse of this in the first quarter of 2013 when HBO's popular Game of Thrones made headlines for breaking a BitTorrent piracy record. Within an hour of the first torrent being uploaded, there were over 163,000 people sharing the single file. However, HBO wasn't all that worried with the rampant piracy that was taking place.
"I probably shouldn't be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts," HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Entertainment weekly in an interview. "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."
Could you imagine the RIAA making a statement like that? It would never happen, because unlike HBO, organizations like the RIAA let FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) get in the way embracing the Internet era. And lest anyone think this was an isolated incident with HBO, we're again reminded of the company's acceptance of the digital age in a recent interview with BuzzFeed.
The topic of sharing passwords for the company's HBO Go service came up, and rather than dodge the question, HBO chief Richard Plepler gave a rather candid response.
"It's not that we're unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business," Plepler told BuzzFeed. He followed that statement up by saying it's a "terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers. We're in the business of creating addicts," and if those addicts share their HBO Go passwords with friends, it could lead to more subscribers.
Part of the reason Plepler feels the way he does is because HBO Go is a value-add service for HBO subscribers. That doesn't mean there won't ever be restrictions in place for sharing passwords, but as the business model currently stands, HBO doesn't seem to mind, and furthermore is embracing the idea since it could lead to additional subscribers. Talk about a refreshing perspective.