In my final paper, I want to explore the effects of internet piracy and web-streaming services on subscription programming, especially considering their reputation for exclusive content. By using HBO’s Game of Thrones as a case study, I want to examine how programs found on cable that attain a certain cultural significance have been consumed, particularly since it is costly to pay for a cable subscription and these programs are generally unavailable for easy streaming. I’m focusing on Game of Thrones in particular because of the attention it has gotten in popular news sources for its status as one of the most pirated shows of 2012.
The internet has affected the way many people view television, and I want to see what the economic effects are for companies such as HBO. Within the scholarly field, there are talks of HBO’s (and other cable shows) position in culture. They are typically viewed as more artistic pursuits than network shows. However, programs like HBO’s Game of Thrones or Showtime’s Dexter are among the most pirated shows of all time. How this fact relates to the cable subscription’s economic model is worth investigation. Piracy is particularly relevant to various media outlets, and the debates over payment models may prove valuable in the coming years. The research I imagine myself doing is very investigative. Again, I want to see, through the example of Game of Thrones, how cable is affected by internet piracy. To do that, I would look at how HBO has built its reputation as a provider of higher quality programming, and how that has benefited the company economically. Then I want to research what the effect of piracy has been on HBO subscriptions, and whether it has been detrimental by focusing on the production costs of a season of Game of Thrones, its reception, rates or pirating, and the DVD/Blu-Ray sales. I also want to investigate the sorts of payment options that are available and whether they would add or detract from HBO’s image, or whether or not HBO even needs to change their model.
The significance of this issue is that television and its availability over the internet have caused many reporters, advertisers, etc. to question the effect of piracy on television production. A program like Game of Thrones which has a high production cost and a large amount of cultural relevance, is also highly pirated. However, HBO appears to be largely unconcerned, especially because they make up a large part of the costs through DVD/Blu-Ray sales. I want to explore more about piracy as a perceived threat to television production.