The ratings so far 2.0
By Hear Me Roar on in Speculation.

Just like last year around this time, we take a look at the Game of Thrones ratings up till now, compared to some other shows. Without further ado, here is the chart:

What can we gather from the data collected? Well, for one, the ratings have been pretty much flat, as you have noticed from week to week – this steady trend is comparable to the long stretch of episodes 3 through 7 last year. The show caught up in ratings with Boardwalk Empire by the end of the first season, and jumped ahead of it this year, keeping a full million difference and more. True Blood, lagging behind as far as the first seasons of the respective shows are concerned, is level with Thrones this year so far, with the difference being that the Southern vampire mystery series gets longer runs of 12 episodes per season. At the S2 6th episode mark, TB reached 4 million viewers exactly, with 6 more episodes to go. Game of Thrones has 4 episodes left this season – last year, the final four instalments brought about a total rise of about half a million viewers. A feat that can hopefully be repeated this time around as well.

Let us know your own predictions for the rest of the season in the comments.


98 Comments

  1. Rukie44
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    I predict a spike at around the 209 mark. C’mon, people, let’s match/beat TB’s numbers! Wooho!

  2. you-know-nothing
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    This is great news, i love seeing something i enjoy being so successful xxx

  3. Pause
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    I’d really love to see some comparable numbers like these for the worldwide dvd/bluray sellings for I have the hope and feeling that those numbers are even much more impressive.

    And some other numbers like what HBO is earning with selling the rights to other countries. (Sadly there are some countries like Germany in which the TV-moguls are too stupid to see the potential in TV-series like this, but in most other countries I think its a big success, too.)

  4. New Wolf
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Pause,

    GoT had the best week of dvd and blu ray sales for an HBO show ever. And it earned more than 20 million dollars selling the rights to other countries. And that is a lot. Especially because HBO has its subsidiaries in a lot of countries (for example, HBO Croatia, HBO Bulgaria etc.) so they don’t actually have to sell the rights to those countries.
    Just by selling rights and selling dvds and blu rays, GoT makes up for it’s huge budget easily.

  5. Hertolo
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Pause,

    I actually thought what RTL II did was quite clever, broadcasting the entire season 1 over a long weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), even if it was a bit too dense. But having several episodes after another keeps more viewers, I’d guess. They also did have a lot of viewers, right? (I’m not sure really).

    But yes, global numbers would be nice to see

  6. ace
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    are these numbers taking account of people who watch the show in HBOGo? If not, then it could be higher

  7. Langkard
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    I think we’ll see the numbers go up when wildfire and the Blackwater collide in the 9th episode. Non-readers are going to be worried that Tyrion was killed, if it stays close to the books and The Hound telling off Joffrey is going to resonate with a lot of folks, not just the San/San shippers. The final episode of the season will really jump up as people react to the implications in the penultimate episode of the season.

    It’s also possible that the missing dragons will increase the numbers a bit for the coming episode. Some people who might have fallen off because they think that they know what is going to happen just had the rug pulled out from under them.

  8. Jordan Healey
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    The ratings will go up as the show gets worse ;)

    Episode 9 should be good though

  9. Drew
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Really dont get why people watch True Blood, watched the first season and it was god awful

  10. daprosinik
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Drew,

    Indeed, i also watched a couple of episodes and I didn’t get it. It wasn’t bad but still nowhere near GOT quality.

  11. Hear Me Roar
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    ace,

    These are the initial airing ratings only, because they are the easiest to compare to other shows. In the big scheme of things, they are not the most important on their own, of course, not for premium cable channels.

  12. wyvernwood
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Based on the above figures, It looks as though GoT does not match TB’s broader appeal, the apparent flatlining of figures, albeit at a very healthy level, implies that there is a stable fanbase – but obviously without the same growth as TB.

    Trying to be objective, I guess that is to be expected. TB has ridden one of the more pervasive trends in fiction, the vampire cult, and was the right show at the right time (twilight and all that). It obviously has/had a good cross-over appeal that GoT has not (so far) replicated.

    That said, I do believe that TB is on the wane, certainly if the next series continues the trend of a decline in quality.

    The question is, can GoT (on TV at least – DVD sales is another matter) continue to grow in viewer numbers ?

    In the UK, S2 has dropped when compared to S1, and figures for S2 have also declined – although they have now started to increase again. S2E4 had the lowest figures so far for any epsiode, E6 was an improvement, but is only up about 60k viewers on overnight figures.

    In the UK though, GoT does out-perform TB and BE quite comfortably.

    S4 of TB On FX averaged about 500k per episode.
    S2 of BE on Sky Atlantic averaged at about 600k.
    S2 of GoT on Sky Atlantic so far has averaged at about 1,300k

    those are all consolidated figures based on viewing the episode at some point during the period of 7 days following broadcast.

  13. Unsullied
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I’m glad to see that the show is holding it’s own with the other big guys on HBO. I think though that the real indicator of just how big this show can get will come next season after the Red Wedding. If the show can’t add viewers after THAT one, then it will be an indicator of a stable but maxed out audience. But seriously, how the heck can it *not* give the show a huge pop. I mean seriously, god damn Freys and Boltons will be the new cuss words after that scene plays out.

  14. sjwenings
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I don’t expect much of an increase at all. The first season was definitely succesful, if not a major hit, and GoT is much talked about, and yet theres been no increase this season. I don’t really expect it to grow much ever, actually. Though since it clearly has a very stable fan-base, and will surely gain a fair amount of new viewers, it will probably grow a little and then settle in the low 4 millions. I think True blood will loose viewers, and GoT will be HBOs most succesful show.

    And once again, this is really fantastic looking back at the worries that the pilot might not be made, then that the show might not get picked up, then that it might not get much viewers, and up to now, with us discussing whether it will be the n.1 or “just” the n.2 show on HBO. Wow!

  15. Ser Lemon Cakes
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    any show having ratings remain steady in the middle of a season rather than go down is unusual and good news for the show. I also think they way people watch tv has changed so much even in the few years since series two of True blood makes it a difficult comparison-if it was out today I doubt it would get those numbers. IIRC season two of that show was terrific too, not so much since then.

  16. Alexander Dubrovsky
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Drew:
    Really dont get why people watch True Blood, watched the first season and it was god awful

    It was a trashy over-the-top fun in first three seasons. The fourth was mostly awful. I don’t have high hopes for the fifth. And it’s not like those books are hard to adapt …
    True Blood is an excellent example on how to fuck up an adaptation.

  17. purplejilly
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Drew: Really dont get why people watch True Blood, watched the first season and it was god awful

    For me, True Blood has a very campy, soap-opera style, and if you can enjoy those types of shows, and approach it that way, it’s great escapist fun. Plus if you drink every time one of Sookie’s boyfriends says “Sookeh iz mine!” that ups the fun level too..

  18. Pyrrhus
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Here’s an interesting article that hypothesizes why HBO GO doesn’t take online subscribers:

    http://m.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/whats-hbo-gos-problem/256919/

    Not totally relevant to the health of GOT except that the market set up may be on the brink of change, and if GOT is profitable under the current status quo, who knows whether it would be in a new one, even if viewer numbers stayed steady.

  19. christmas is coming
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Boardwalk empire….OUCH!!!

    I love that the shows that are getting the highest ratings are fantasy shows. This should prove that Fantasy doesn’t always have to be “cartoonish”, and that it can be taken seriously!

  20. Wastrel
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    As i said in the other thread: you can’t assume the support has maxed out because viewing figures have ‘flatlined’. This is a very complicated, plot-heavy show, and people who might tune in partway through the second season of true blood might not do so partway through the second season of GOT.

    But that doesn’t mean support can’t grow, just that it will probably grow between seasons rather than during them. People who are hearing good things, or are watching the DVDs of season one, will hopefully be able to catch on in season 3.

    [Although this is damaged badly by HBO's ridiculous policy of only releasing the DVDs at the last moment. For a show where the DVD and the show are just advertising for each other, that makes sense, but for GOT people will be needing the DVD in order to catch up. If you don't give them time to catch up, they won't be watching on TV]

    Also: the charts aren’t very helpful because they’re premiere figures. While this does get around the repeat-viewing problem (repeat viewers aren’t repeat subscriptions!), it means that you’re not just measuring the number who watch, but the number who watch immediately.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if the total viewing figures remain fairly steady with a slight uptick, with a more dramatic uptick in premiere viewings – as more people who would watch it at some point in the week decide to do so as soon as possible, once the plot becomes more cliffhangery.

  21. Who Is Jacopo Belbo?
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    TB and GoT show two different sides of the same problem.

    GoT has too many characters almost all of which are interesting and played by excellent actors so that fans/viewers tend to get left with the feeling they aren’t getting enough of each one.

    TB has too many characters almost all of which are dreadfully boring and played by mediocre to piss poor actors so that fans/viewers tend to get left with the feeling they wish some of them would die so that the show can spend some time with the few characters that are interesting.

    TB was fine when it was about vampires and their culture and how it intermeshed with human culture … the season with the crazy religious nuts and when they went to Dallas with the sire of Eric was good.

    Since then it has become just throwing a bunch of crap against the screen … werewolves, werepanthers, witches, fairies and on and on and on none of which are interesting. Instead of having a few “fantastical” characters interacting with normal humans they decided to turn every human into some sort of magical powered being.

    The vampires with their efforts to integrate and be accepted (the league) and the effort to thwart that by some of them (like the vampire who killed the guy on live tv) is where the really interesting part is … and Eric is the only really compelling character. The rest is just f**king stupid.

    Of course it doesn’t help that A. the show is based on a set of books that are pretty much rubbish and only look good compared to real fecal literature like Twilight and B. two of the three “main” characters (Sookie and Bill) are played by actors with as much charisma as wet cardboard.

  22. Vanderhook
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    sjwenings: I don’t expect much of an increase at all. The first season was definitely succesful, if not a major hit, and GoT is much talked about, and yet theres been no increase this season. I don’t really expect it to grow much ever, actually.

    No increase? Are we looking at the same graph? GoT is the blue line buddy, theres a significant jump between season 1 and season 2.

    As far as the “Why do people like True Blood?” question: Yeah it’s trashy and campy but when it’s good, its a fun show with some surprisingly good acting at times. However, it’s not always good. The most recent season was pretty crappy as a whole, and really every season has a problem with wrapping things up, i.e, the final two episodes are usually pretty bad. A good example is season 2, which was actualy very good up until episode 10 or so where it took a nose dive. Very dissappointing when you have a great season ruined by a crappy ending.

    On a side note: can the graphs show the ratings for the final 2 episodes of BE and TB?

  23. Steel_Wind
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    There are a lot of aspects to GoT’s success. DVD/Blu-Ray sales, overall numbers of viewers that see the show, international audience through HBO’s own affiliates, and overseas sales.

    And there is also the cost factor of the show and impact upon subscriber orders/renewal near or at the time of GoT’s season premiere.

    While it is possible to focus on the simple metric we have access to, it becomes self-defeating if the only point of looking at the metric is to infer “success” or “failure” from looking at it. It won’t do that and tell us the whole story through HBO’s eyes.

    What we do know is that HBO believes in the show, the show is making money, the show is still finding its audience but is probably close to its ceiling in the USA, and that the show has been renewed for Season 3. Provided the numbers stay the same or at least in the ballpark, there is every reason to believe those renewals will continue into the future.

    Trying to infer more than that is asking too much from one metric.

  24. Hear Me Roar
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Vanderhook,

    They do!

    For the first time ever in those graph post I didn’t write the usual note that the line trend has been condensed to fit the 10 season run of Thrones, and I get that :)

    So: there’s a full ratings progression shown for TB and BE, just squeezed short to fit alongside GoT.

  25. dmf
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Unsullied,

    I completely agree… for me ASOS is the most drama-filled book yet due mainly to the two huge deaths and i think that is what will make this series keep going strong, the steady uplift in drama/intensity.

  26. Junki
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    daprosinik:
    Drew,

    Indeed, i also watched a couple of episodes and I didn’t get it. It wasn’t bad but still nowhere near GOT quality.

    You guys r just jealous lol.

    Why have Luck charted? Why not sopranos?

  27. sjwenings
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Vanderhook: No increase? Are we looking at the same graph? GoT is the blue line buddy, theres a significant jump between season 1 and season 2.

    I said “no increase this season”, meaning only this season, not compared to season 1.

  28. Varamyr Fourskins
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    That’s a weird trend for BE, especially considering how much better it got during the second season.

    Luck’s numbers just go to show that unless it’s the Kentucky Derby, no one gives a shit about horse racing anymore.

    Also, is there any way we can get a graph that shows The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood and The Wire, for a little historical comparison, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble? Not a big deal. Just wondering how the show is doing compared to some of the HBO classics.

  29. Ross
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    What I fundamentally don’t understand about the figures going up halfway through a season is why on earth people would want to start watching something several episodes in?

  30. Siniša Grimjaur Šiško
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    A little bit offtopic: FaBio, will there be a curtain call for Ron Donachie (Rodrik Cassel) from your pen (keyboard)? I enjoy those cc’s greatly, especially since he was a great character, perfectly portrayed by actor, and the scene of his execution was especially powerful and moving.
    Plus, his epic mutton chops prevented his head from rolling further (and as you wrote, Theon did kick a head in the end). Badass!

  31. Dennis
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    IMHO having True Blood do well is likely beneficial to GoT; I can’t phantom TB costing near as much to produce as Got, which means (hopefully) more money in HBO’s coffers to fund the show we all love.

  32. Matt Chung
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Ross:
    What I fundamentally don’t understand about the figures going up halfway through a season is why on earth people would want to start watching something several episodes in?

    “Gee, I’ve been hearing so much about this show, I guess I should try watching it.”

    Though it does annoy me when people go “Oh I tried watching an episode, I didn’t understand what was going on so it sucked”. I mean, of course you didn’t understand what was going on, there’s like a whole 13 episodes of stuff that happens beforehand.

    Varamyr Fourskins:
    That’s a weird trend for BE, especially considering how much better it got during the second season.

    That’s… debatable. Personally, I felt that the second season of BE was really… boring, at least until the last two episodes. And the shocking, shocking incest bit. Oh god. Oh god.

  33. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Pyrrhus:
    Here’s an interesting article that hypothesizes why HBO GO doesn’t take online subscribers:

    http://m.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/whats-hbo-gos-problem/256919/

    Not totally relevant to the health of GOT except that the market set up may be on the brink of change, and if GOT is profitable under the current status quo, who knows whether it would be in a new one, even if viewer numbers stayed steady.

    People should bookmark that. Great article.

  34. Ross
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Matt Chung,

    I guess it just wouldn’t even occur to me to try watching a series from any point other than the first minute of the first episode. Unless each episode was a standalone story, as with many cop shows. How you could come into GoT fresh say, from next week, and enjoy it in any meaningful way I have no clue.

  35. Langkard
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Ross:
    What I fundamentally don’t understand about the figures going up halfway through a season is why on earth people would want to start watching something several episodes in?

    Some of the increase is likely to be people tuning in for the first time; but many might simply be people who have been catching later showings of the episodes, even later in the week. The show’s buzz might have people who wait until later in the week to watch or who have been watching on HBOGo wanting to be ready to discuss the show right away with friends or around the water cooler on Monday at work. Thus instead of waiting to watch they tune in for the first showing on Sunday evening and end up raising the viewer numbers, even though they have watched all of the episodes at other times.

  36. Shinyteapot
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    purplejilly,

    I watched the first series of true blood convinced it was a comedy. Surely it’s deliberately taking the piss?

    Ratings for GoT look pretty good to me, I’ve always considered ACOK to be a little less gripping than the two books either side of it so it doesn’t surprise me ratings aren’t climbing as much as last series. It’s strange really- now there’s outright war, but there’s less shock and upheaval around the main characters than the lead up to it.

  37. Chuggalugbug
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I really don’t understand how True Blood gets the ratings it does. That show is uncomplicated drek.

  38. Seriano
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    In the subject of the successful run of the series overseas, GoT is probably the most discussed and praised foreign show here in Brazil.

    There was an example taken from the media this week that proves this statement: a free-distributed newspaper in São Paulo had almost a full page (go to page 16) dedicated to the recent lauch of the DVD/Bluray sales (while the “Mad Men” DVD lauch is much less praised on the right column on the same page).

    As for the books, they started to be released after HBO greenlit the series and they normally appear on the “biggest sales” lists everywhere. I see people reading them everyday on buses and subway trains when I’m going to work or to the college.

    It’s been pretty much a big success.

    (sorry if my english is not right)

  39. tysnow
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    My view is that as the series progresses D&D need to move even more into the GoT alternate universe. We all know how insufferable Feast and Dances was in many parts. While there was still the genius of George in many other parts, but not as a whole. So HBO must condense/change the bad and magnify the good in those books if they want the viewers to increase or stay steady. I also have the opinion that many characters from here on out need to be purged or merged, to many (we all have favs, but need to be realistic) so we still have a foundation of the show to watch. The big thing to me is Dany’s lack of being in Westeros by now, causal viewers will not accept Dany still being in Essos, 5 years from now, period. Many fans left the book series because of this and therefore D&D must come up with a viable (hopefully brilliant) way of bringing her over earlier while keeping the spirit of the books intact. This will cause the biggest alterante universe revision, but is necessary so as not to purge the show of viewers.

  40. oracle86
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Varamyr Fourskins:
    Also, is there any way we can get a graph that shows The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood and The Wire, for a little historical comparison, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble? Not a big deal. Just wondering how the show is doing compared to some of the HBO classics.

    Same here. That would be great! Please, somebody?

  41. Kingthlayer
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    dmf:
    Unsullied,

    I completely agree… for me ASOS is the most drama-filled book yet due mainly to the two huge deaths and i think that is what will make this series keep going strong, the steady uplift in drama/intensity.

    there are at least 4 that I count!

    I will admit that I really love True Blood. Not only that but I’ve ONLY watched the most recent season! Can’t stop staring at Jessica, go figure.

    1 thing I would like to see is a graph correlating major sports events and GoT viewership (in America). I would bet that it does not correlate very much. I love sports but I skipped the last Sunday Celtics game to watch GoT and it’s the playoffs. Maybe I’m alone.

  42. Ser_G
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’d be willing to bet that the reason that other shows aren’t listed to compare with these is because ratings numbers for them are a little harder to find (whereas with these shows, they’re available right on the wiki pages for every episode). For comparison, though, at its peak (season 4) The Sopranos got in excess of 13 million viewers; I remember there was even a joke during the Oscarcast about “welcoming back all the viewers who tuned out for an hour to catch “The Sopranos”. It’s also important to note that TV viewership models were very different in 2002, which was largely prior to the rise of DVR, On Demand, and HBO Go. (Though The Sopranos is still HBO’s most successful show of all time).

    These are awesome numbers, and comparing them to True Blood’s is all well and good, but this show isn’t True Blood (which draws its audience largely because it’s campy, pulpy, sexy, and not nearly as serialized). I also expect we’ll see an uptick in the last four episodes as I think a lot of people are catching up on the early “setup” episodes of a season at their leisure but will tune in for the event when they see that the fecal matter is about to come into contact with the rotary air displacement device. That was certainly the case with Season 1.

    And even if our median turns out to be 4M viewers per night, that’s steady enough to keep the show on the air for sure. We’re officially a bigger deal than Boardwalk Empire now, for sure.

  43. Nagga's Kin
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Nielsen ratings aren’t the whole story here.

    I know WiC.net doesn’t support piracy and has generally avoided any discussion of it because of the desire to get the show renewed for additional seasons. Always support the bottom! However, turning a blind eye to reality isn’t going to make it go away.

    According to TorrentFreak, the number of people world-wide who downloaded illegal copies of GoT season 1 using bit torrents actually outstripped the number of law-abiding HBO customers in the US. True Blood attracted far fewer downloads, suggesting that it is indeed less popular than GoT outside the US.

    GoT season 2 is now on track to eclipse Dexter to become the most pirated show of 2012. The quoted figure of 25 million bit torrent downloads since April 1 implies an average of more than 4 million per episode.

    Note that bit torrents are not the only or necessarily the most significant form of online piracy. With prices for broadband bandwidth dropping for both consumers and site operators, there are more opportunities than ever to illegally stream GoT episodes on-demand, even in HD format (not 1080p quality, obviously, but still). TorrentFreak’s data does not include illegal streams and probably doesn’t even include all bit torrents.

    This begs the question: are the consumers of pirated content just unwilling to pay for it? A recent discussion on reddit is revealing.

    Paraphrasing: “I’m illegally downloading or demanding streams of GoT episodes …

    a) because I’ve got the technology to do it and am unlikely to be prosecuted for piracy”

    b) because I want a lot more stuff than I can afford”

    c) because I want to watch content on my mobile device”

    d) because I consider cable TV and DVD to be obsolete technologies”

    e) because I want to be part of the global online discussions of the most recent content”

    f) because cable service or reliable satellite aren’t available in my neck of the woods but I have broadband internet access via the phone company”

    g) because I want the uncensored version (applies to certain int’l markets)”

    h) because dubbing alters the feel of the show and my command of English is good enough to watch the original version (applies to certain int’l markets)”

    i) because I’ll pay HBO for the content down the road by purchasing either the DVD or Blu-Ray boxed set when that comes out and, I’m not willing to defer watching until then”

    j) because access to HBO content isn’t offered at all in my country”

    k) because I’d be willing to pay for unbundled HBO Go service but it’s not on offer”

    l) because HBO is a premium channel that is only available on top of basic cable or satellite service, in some cases only as part of a premium channel package, massively jacking up the price of what I want by forcing me to buy a lot of other stuff I don’t want”

    m) because of something else”

    Note that these are the motivations consumers willing to admit to piracy are volunteering to help others understand their actions. They do not constitute legal justification!

  44. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    tysnow:
    My view is that as the series progresses D&D need to move even more into the GoT alternate universe. We all know how insufferable Feast and Dances was in many parts. While there was still the genius of George in many other parts, but not as a whole. So HBO must condense/change the bad and magnify the good in those books if they want the viewers to increase or stay steady. I also have the opinion that many characters from here on out need to be purged or merged, to many (we all have favs, but need to be realistic) so we still have a foundation of the show to watch. The big thing to me is Dany’s lack of being in Westeros by now, causal viewers will not accept Dany still being in Essos, 5 years from now, period. Many fans left the book series because of this and therefore D&D must come up with a viable (hopefully brilliant) way of bringing her over earlier while keeping the spirit of the books intact. This will cause the biggest alterante universe revision, but is necessary so as not to purge the show of viewers.

    Look at the publishing numbers – as much as people whine about certain things, people are not stopping reading ASOIF in droves because of any plot point. When people don’t like something, they always say that. It’s not proven to be true. I suppose if TWOW is also really slow, but I think the fanbase is mostly committed.

    Furthermore, i doubt you’ve thought the consequences through. That’s not a deviation, that’s complete and utter dis-attachment. There wouldn’t be a single storyline in any way preserved.

    Anyway, the WORST thing that could happen is that D&D start making major changes based on what they perceive as marketability. You think that change would be the first they make? No, massive character cuts, plotline cuts, focus groups…just ick.

  45. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Ross:
    What I fundamentally don’t understand about the figures going up halfway through a season is why on earth people would want to start watching something several episodes in?

    On Twitter, I see a lot of people starting the first season now. Eventually, they may catch up — and given the show, sooner rather than later.

    On Comcast, for example, all 16 episodes are still available on demand. Same with on HBOGO.

    You could start this weekend and watch Episode 17 at 9pm. And I don’t doubt some small number of people will.

  46. Mike Chair
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Alan,

    All 16 episodes are available on Verizon Fios too.

    I would love to see the stats on new viewers for the first season On Demand.

  47. fuelpagan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    OT:
    Winter, I think it is time to look into some sort of paging feature on the comments. I don’t know about others, but I don’t think my system will handle 1000 comments. I can barely open the latest Recap thread as it is.

  48. jkb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    Alrite I’m gonna dig my own grave and admit it: I download (for several reasons, if anyone cares I’m happy to share ;p). Thing is, I WANT to pay. I just refuse to pay for bundles. I want to pay for GoT and GoT only, because that’s the only thing I’m interested in (well, and BE). An online stream, in HD, synchronous with actual airing, available worldwide, this is what I want and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

    Time to adapt, HBO.

  49. DH87
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Varamyr Fourskins: That’s a weird trend for BE, especially considering how much better it got during the second season.

    BE over-promised and under-delivered in its S1, turning many folks off permanently (including me) and it doesn’t have a marquee male star to lure otherwise uninterested viewers to watch him do his stuff. There’s a reason why stars are called stars. Buscemi isn’t a star and, as many insiders predicted at the get-go, he can’t carry a show.

  50. DH87
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Vanderhook: As far as the “Why do people like True Blood?” question: Yeah it’s trashy and campy but when it’s good, its a fun show with some surprisingly good acting at times. However, it’s not always good. The most recent season was pretty crappy as a whole, and really every season has a problem with wrapping things up, i.e, the final two episodes are usually pretty bad. A good example is season 2, which was actualy very good up until episode 10 or so where it took a nose dive. Very dissappointing when you have a great season ruined by a crappy ending.

    TB has turned into a steaming pile of crap, but it has a star in Skarsgard. There’s a reason why he has transitioned to tentpole films like “Battleship” during the TB run and Warner’s bought his star/producing vehicle, “The Vanguard,” on a pre-emptive bid. These kinds of actors draw folks who otherwise would not watch a show. BE doesn’t have one; GOT doesn’t have one. That’s just the way it is, and it limits the audience for a show to a self-defined one.

  51. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The Atlantic article linked above shows exactly why HBO does what it does and why it is not behind the times yet. The number of people watching entertainment on their computer dwarfs those who watch on TV — and it is skewed young and single, which matters to little to HBO but matters a lot to his sister stations.

    I am surprised they haven’t yet launched a hybrid model where digital downloads on iTunes or whatever are extremely high — something like $10-15/episode. I don’t imagine too many of you would want to pay then. But that’s what they’d have to charge to keep the cable companies off their back.

    People won’t drop $200 dollars on three months of basic cable plus HBO (plus the annoyance); would you really drop $100? $150? for just Game of Thrones?

  52. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Mike Chair:
    Alan,

    All 16 episodes are available on Verizon Fios too.

    I would love to see the stats on new viewers for the first season On Demand.

    It would be neat to see. I hear of a lot of people giving in to peer pressure and starting it now, but I don’t know how many are legally watching it.

  53. Lex
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    True Blood is hilarious, fun, and addictive. It’s like candy or junk food. So bad, but so good. I enjoy it quite a bit, even if it’s nowhere near the quality level of Deadwood, Rome, Sopranos, etc.

    And before we bash TB ( out of envy over its higher ratings), lets remember that it was partly due to the success of that fantastical/supernatural show that HBO was willing take a chance on Game of Thrones.

    Personall, I’m VERY happy with GOT’s numbers. In fact, they’re better than I had ever really expected. It’s a resounding, popular success.

  54. Delta1212
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    jkb,

    As was pointed out pretty thoroughly in that article linked up above, were HBO to do something like that, they’d almost certainly lose more money than they gained from pirates switching over to paying for it. The streaming market it is growing, but it’s still nowhere near big enough to compensate for the costs that would be incurred by HBO in extracting itself from the current system.

    There will probably come a point where they will need to change their business plan, but just because we can see it coming doesn’t mean it’s here yet and jumping the gun isn’t adapting, it’s stupid.

  55. Superdeluxe
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Season 2 is playing out like Season 1. Episodes 1-6 steady, 7-10 gain (Hopefully)

  56. Balerion
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    True Blood more viewers than Game..??

  57. Hear Me Roar
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    oracle86,

    I would be more than happy to do it … however, the numbers are really scarce, if available at all. Does anyone have anything better than season average for The Sopranos, and some references to premiere numbers for Rome? I may give it one more long session of internet hunting when I next have more time :)

  58. Hear Me Roar
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Ser_G,

    What you said :)

    Some available info,
    season averages for the first three seasons of The Sopranos (1999-2001):
    S1 3.5m
    S2 6.6m
    S3 8.9m

    Premiere numbers for the two seasons of Rome (2005-2007):
    S1 3.8m
    S2 7.5m

  59. Balerion
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I find it rather disappointing figures, to be honest. A show this good!

  60. nazgul
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    jkb:
    Nagga’s Kin,

    Alrite I’m gonna dig my own grave and admit it: I download (for several reasons, if anyone cares I’m happy to share ;p). Thing is, I WANT to pay. I just refuse to pay for bundles. I want to pay for GoT and GoT only, because that’s the only thing I’m interested in (well, and BE). An online stream, in HD, synchronous with actual airing, available worldwide, this is what I want and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

    Time to adapt, HBO.

    you are not alone…comes Monday I start hunting for the new episode to leech…
    HBO Asia were few episodes behind and censored…
    but I do own the BD for first season…

  61. midnightblack07
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad GoT is at the very least maintaining it’s ratings if not slightly increasing them, and I’m hoping that as the action increases in the remaining episodes that the viewers will increase along with it (particularly where the last couple of episodes are concerned, as was the case in season 1).

    True Blood certainly has it’s moments, (as so many people already pointed out above), it has the sort of “mass appeal” that a show like GoT can’t really boast–but the quality (not that there was much in the first place, lol, but at least there was a bit of cohesion) has DEFINITELY taken a hit in the last couple of seasons, so I don’t really understand the rising ratings where it’s concerned (I pretty much checked out mid season-4 tbh).

    But, then again, when have ratings ever been an indicator of quality lol :/

  62. T-Good
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    If I watch GoT on all my TVs in my house does that still just count as one viewer?

  63. ravens20
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    One thing that could be affecting the ratings is the tremendous amount of piracy that has been been plaguing the show.

    Here’s an article on Forbes claiming that it’s the most pirated show of 2012:
    http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

  64. Just Me
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I bought the dvd’s (Games of Thrones and True Blood). I just subscribed to HBO. I find they are on different channels of HBO, and the weekly episode is shown several times during the week. What channel at what time is it counted ? I tend to Tivo or watch HBO GO. More are watching than it shows.

  65. Flow101
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m not as ambitious as most in here, I just want GoT to have good enough ratings that will ensure future seasons.

    And it seems that with these ratings, it’s good enough so it’s fine by me.

  66. Dennis
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar:
    Ser_G,

    What you said :)

    Some available info,
    season averages for the first three seasons of The Sopranos (1999-2001):
    S1 3.5m
    S2 6.6m
    S3 8.9m

    Premiere numbers for the two seasons of Rome (2005-2007):
    S1 3.8m
    S2 7.5m

    In some ways I find Rome to be much more impressive than the Sopranos. Why? Well, how many people had fast broadband connections and how popular were torrents back in 1999-2001? Nowhere close to the amount of people “making use” of it nowadays. While I do have a HBO subscription, I agree that the subscriber channels need to do something to somehow allow folks to subscribe to individual shows. The amount of illegal downloading and distributing of GoT is likely massive. If only a few percent of these folks would watch it legally the numbers would likely be way up. Even though I am stereotyping here but I do not believe that TB suffers near as much from this downloading activity as GoT. I tend to believe that the average viewer of GoT has a bit more of a knack for technological exploitation of the show ;-)

  67. Pastor_of_Muppets
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    As far as I’m concerned, it makes more sense to compare more recent shows to GoT than anything like The Sopranos or Rome. For one thing, HBO Go wasn’t available until last year, and I’d wager that a lot of people use this service (and DVR/On-Demand) to watch shows on HBO in general, anymore.

    For instance, those numbers for Luck look pretty atrocious and yet it was greenlit for a second season because the cumulative numbers were upwards of 4.5 million viewers.

    Game of Thrones is picking up new viewers pretty consistently, based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, Facebook, and several message boards throughout this second season. A lot of people – now that they know the show isn’t going to be cancelled due to costs – are willing to commit to it based on critical acclaim and word of mouth.

    I think we’ll see minor rises up to the finale, a decent increase on episode 10, and I’d expect the cumulative views to rise considerably as people subscribe to HBO for True Blood & The Newsroom & Boardwalk Empire (which I’m predicting to rise this year based on a very strong second season and the fact that they won’t screw up the DVD/Blu-Ray release again). DVD & Blu-Ray sales are still going strong for the first season and this should continue for a while; and obviously the second seasons release will do incredibly well, too. Factor in international sales and distribution, and we’re looking at as sure a bet as you can get for HBO continuing the series, especially if GoT continues to garner awards recognition (which it surely will).

    The numbers never tell the whole story, though, as evidenced by the fact that GoT is one of the most pirated television shows of all time (which doesn’t help HBO, but is interesting nonetheless). This show is HBO’s new flagship series, make no mistake about that. The best thing that could happen for this show is for all of HBO’s programming to continue to deliver, ensuring subscribers stick around longer in order to check out their other shows (mainly GoT) through On-Demand and HBO Go.

  68. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Just Me:
    I bought the dvd’s (Games of Thrones and True Blood).I just subscribed to HBO. I find they are on different channels of HBO, and the weekly episode is shown several times during the week.What channel at what time is it counted ? I tend to Tivo or watch HBO GO.More are watching than it shows.

    If you aren’t a Nielsen household, it won’t affect the published ratings no matter what. But the numbers above are for the 9pm local viewing in the US.

    I believe HBO gets HBOGO data and on demand data in better detail, along with probably using a DVR+7 number for viewings.

    The best thing you could probably do is to contact HBO and tell them directly that you subscribed specifically for Game of Thrones.

  69. Alan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Pastor_of_Muppets:
    As far as I’m concerned, it makes more sense to compare more recent shows to GoT than anything like The Sopranos or Rome. For one thing, HBO Go wasn’t available until last year, and I’d wager that a lot of people use this service (and DVR/On-Demand) to watch shows on HBO in general, anymore.

    For instance, those numbers for Luck look pretty atrocious and yet it was greenlit for a second season because the cumulative numbers were upwards of 4.5 million viewers.

    Game of Thrones is picking up new viewers pretty consistently, based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, Facebook, and several message boards throughout this second season. A lot of people – now that they know the show isn’t going to be cancelled due to costs – are willing to commit to it based on critical acclaim and word of mouth.

    I think we’ll see minor rises up to the finale, a decent increase on episode 10, and I’d expect the cumulative views to rise considerably as people subscribe to HBO for True Blood & The Newsroom & Boardwalk Empire (which I’m predicting to rise this year based on a very strong second season and the fact that they won’t screw up the DVD/Blu-Ray release again). DVD & Blu-Ray sales are still going strong for the first season and this should continue for a while; and obviously the second seasons release will do incredibly well, too. Factor in international sales and distribution, and we’re looking at as sure a bet as you can get for HBO continuing the series, especially if GoT continues to garner awards recognition (which it surely will).

    The numbers never tell the whole story, though, as evidenced by the fact that GoT is one of the most pirated television shows of all time (which doesn’t help HBO, but is interesting nonetheless). This show is HBO’s new flagship series, make no mistake about that. The best thing that could happen for this show is for all of HBO’s programming to continue to deliver, ensuring subscribers stick around longer in order to check out their other shows (mainly GoT) through On-Demand and HBO Go.

    *Cumulative numbers are no doubt better, but they are not consistently published for anything.

    *You’re right the market has completely changed.

    *HBO numbers 2002 and earlier are overstated as Nielsen aggregated all HBO channels into one number. Those Sopranos numbers are somewhat, though probably not a lot, overstated.

  70. Wastrel
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    ravens20,

    I suspect that if anything the piracy is helping the show. I know several people who bought the DVDs on the back of having pirated it – they’d never have watched it otherwise, since they don’t have Sky.

  71. Vince
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    wyvernwood,

    Yeah, and see what would happen if HBO actually licensed the show to a decent terrestrial UK channel like BBC that isn’t subscriber based and isn’t way restricted, and no ads either. Ratings would probably be way more than in the US even.

  72. JamesL
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    The 7.5m number for Rome season 2 premiere ratings is not correct. That is most likely its cumulative ratings with Ondemand and repeats. If the show was getting 7.5m viewers for the 9pm premiere airing it never would have been cancelled.

  73. Superdeluxe
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Now come on, there might be some examples here and there that people who pirate, goes back and supports it buy buying DVD’s. But how many could that be?

    Wastrel:
    ravens20,

    I suspect that if anything the piracy is helping the show. I know several people who bought the DVDs on the back of having pirated it – they’d never have watched it otherwise, since they don’t have Sky.

  74. Nagga's Kin
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    jkb:
    Nagga’s Kin,

    Alrite I’m gonna dig my own grave and admit it: I download (for several reasons, if anyone cares I’m happy to share ;p). Thing is, I WANT to pay. I just refuse to pay for bundles. I want to pay for GoT and GoT only, because that’s the only thing I’m interested in (well, and BE). An online stream, in HD, synchronous with actual airing, available worldwide, this is what I want and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

    Time to adapt, HBO.

    Just Me:
    I bought the dvd’s (Games of Thrones and True Blood).I just subscribed to HBO. I find they are on different channels of HBO, and the weekly episode is shown several times during the week.What channel at what time is it counted ? I tend to Tivo or watch HBO GO.More are watching than it shows.

    To be fair, I don’t think they could introduce an Internet-only subscription product easily even if they wanted to, for three reasons:

    a) HBO has (multi-year?) contracts with cable TV (perhaps also satellite TV) network operators and/or premium content aggregators (e.g. Sky in Europe) that tie its hands legally. At least some of those contracts include exclusivity clauses to maximize yields in that business model.

    b) HBO would need new server and client software that could minimize the cost of distributing premium HD content via the Internet such that the effort involved in pirating that would be far higher than that for ripping a DVR file.

    c) HBO would need a new business model that would allow it to generate significantly more revenue from the new distribution technology (b) than it cannibalized from the existing one based on (exclusive) contracts with cable TV operators plus HBO Go plus DVD/Blu-Ray sales and Game of Thrones the long sword. Such a transition is risky, especially given that HBO’s payroll is full of guys and gals who know TV but not this new-fangled series of tubes.

    Usually, large organizations strongly resist calls for changes to a profitable business model. Some enlightened CEOs are open to exploring ways in which to evolve it, especially if there’s a realistic prospect of higher total revenue and/or profits net of cannibalization losses. A few may even be willing to put their companies in the vanguard of a disruptive technology that they believe is anyhow just around the corner. In either case, they’ll probably have to drag some of their executives and managers along kicking and screaming. There are real risks to adopting an aggressive stance, last not least the CEO’s own job if things don’t pan out.

    By the time some tech startup comes up with the disruptive technology and it is operated successfully, the pressure is on to adapt quickly or suffer the consequences. Companies that are suddenly caught flat-footed can find themselves facing an existential threat.

  75. MAC
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Superdeluxe,

    Lots? I have no problem paying for (and would pay considerably more if I had to) for BluRay quality, English subs for my wife who doesn’t speak English as her first language, the great extras, and of course that sense of permanence and ownership that you just don’t get with a pirated file. But now that I’ve cancelled cable (there is rarely more than one “appointment” show airing at a time for me, and sometimes none… I don’t like sports, TV news is garbage, any time spent channel surfing would probably be better spent doing almost anything else) I’m certainly not going to go back to that PLUS shell out for HBO… $250 to watch a season of GOT and very little else? No. And I’m not going to wait an extra year to watch, either, while all my friends are enjoying it. I will pirate without an ounce of remorse and buy later.

  76. John
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I think the finale will definitely top four million, and I suspect that the penultimate episode will as well because the whole season is building up to the Battle of the Blackwater, and everyone is going to want to see how well the show adapts it

  77. Knurk
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    JamesL:
    Hear Me Roar,

    The 7.5m number for Rome season 2 premiere ratings is not correct. That is most likely its cumulative ratings with Ondemand and repeats. If the show was getting 7.5m viewers for the 9pm premiere airing it never would have been cancelled.

    Rome was cancelled before the season 2 premiere. But that 7.5 million number has no proper source on Wikipedia, so we better not take it as a fact that it had 7.5 million viewers indeed.

  78. Knurk
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    As a matter of fact, after some quick googling you’ll find out Rome season 2 premiere had 1.5 million viewers. Still no official sources, but much more believable than that 7.5 number.

  79. ghost
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    U got to hand it to True Blood there are like 10 actors in the show with a shoe string budget and they beat GOT that has a hundred actors with like 10 times the budget.

    The vampire theme is getting somewhat played out and since the series is struggling to find a direction, I’ll be surprised if TB is still sitting on the Iron Throne by next season.

  80. DS
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    there is no need to bash True Blood its a fun show to watch, and very entertaining

  81. DH87
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Alan: The best thing you could probably do is to contact HBO and tell them directly that you subscribed specifically for Game of Thrones.

    Or you could rest assured that HBO interns monitor sites such as WIC and glean that information for themselves. :)

  82. Adenhart
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Living on the West coast I can tell you almost everyone I know that watches the show watches on HBOGO because it’s available 3 hours early here.

  83. DH87
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    DS,

    True Blood’s most redeeming trait right now is that it is cheap to produce, $3million per episode compared to GOT’s $5million-plus, while still delivering strong numbers, at least til June. It’s a Dead Series Walking, and there’s no doubt anymore—GOT is HBO’s new darling. Absolutely nothing is going to change that. Buscemi’s BE isn’t going to pull 5 million viewers against Sunday Night Football, Newsroom isn’t either, not with the very good journeyman Jeff Daniels at the top of the cast, the half-hour-comedy line up is DOA, and the new Alan Ball HBO series, “Witchita,” is about a murdered abortion doctor. How’s that for escapist drama?
    The HBO suits have killed almost every pilot they commissioned last year; without GOT, they would be hip-deep in cowpies along with Joffrey. If they could clone D&D, no doubt they would.

  84. DH87
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    “Wichita.” Sorry: a paranormal slip there.

  85. Hear Me Roar
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    JamesL,

    That makes more sense, yes. The Wikipedia phrasing there is not too clear. 7.5 is indeed a huge number … Goes to show how hard it is to find the numbers. Has anyone else had more luck?

  86. young stark
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    I hooked everybody I know who has HBO to the show,trying to do my part….king of the north!!!

  87. Hannah G
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    True Blood started off really well. I’m not big on vampires but seasons 1 and 2 were amazing. But it’s lost whatever made it so good, and just feels a bit cheap and tired now. Game of Thrones will not have that downward turn because the books just keep getting bigger, twistier, punchier. We’ll overtake True Blood in a couple of years, trust.
    I’m surprised the figures for Boardwalk fell so much, though.

  88. Langkard
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    I wonder if some of the excuses used for pirating shows would work as legal defenses for other kinds of theft.

    “I stole the wheels off of the SUV because I did not want to pay for the whole thing!”

    “I stole the filet mignon from the grocery store because I can only afford flank steak.”

    “I stole the old lady’s purse because it’s easier than working for a living.”

    “I stole my neighbor’s dog because he wouldn’t give it to me for free.”

    Is theft still illegal if you can get away with it easily? Why, yes, it is. It’s still theft even if you have what you think is a good excuse. All criminals have what they think are good excuses for what they do. Rationalizations for thievery don’t make the theft somehow not theft.

  89. Wastrel
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Langkard:
    I wonder if some of the excuses used for pirating shows would work as legal defenses for other kinds of theft.

    “I stole the wheels off of the SUV because I did not want to pay for the whole thing!”

    “I stole the filet mignon from the grocery store because I can only afford flank steak.”

    “I stole the old lady’s purse because it’s easier than working for a living.”

    “I stole my neighbor’s dog because he wouldn’t give it to me for free.”

    Is theft still illegal if you can get away with it easily?Why, yes, it is.It’s still theft even if you have what you think is a good excuse. All criminals have what they think are good excuses for what they do.Rationalizations for thievery don’t make the theft somehow not theft.

    Oh don’t be ridiculous. First, nobody really believes that piracy is theft, anymore than photography is theft. It’s illegal, yes, but it isn’t theft – it’s not what the word ‘theft’ means in common language, it’s not what ‘theft’ means in any ethical theory, and you know what, it isn’t theft according to the law.
    I’ll repeat that point: copyright infringement is not morally or legally theft.

    If you won’t take my word on it, how about the United States Supreme Court’s word: “interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft”. [To be theft, you have to take control of the thing with the intent to deprive the owner of the ability to use the thing]. But hey, don’t let the law or the language stop you. I don’t know why people don’t apply the principle more widely. Call gay marriage ‘theft’, call drug use ‘theft’, call burning the american flag ‘theft’. Nobody likes theft, right?

    Now, on the broader point: I think it’s alarming how defenders of (the recent and expanding definitions of) copyright seem unable to distinguish law from morality. Do you not understand the concept of right and wrong separate from what you might get punished for?

    Yes, copyright infringement is illegal, we all know that, so it’s not a matter of people saying things as “legal defences”. People are saying things as moral defences, which are a different thing altogether and infinitely more important. We’re talking about right and wrong, not some infantile preoccupation with men in cars with flashing lights. If you want to persuade people that copyright infringement is wrong, give people reasons to think that it’s wrong – don’t just smugly say ‘well i don’t think the courts agree with you!’ – that makes it look as though you can’t distinguish ‘wrong’ from ‘i’ve been told not to do it’.

    Superdeluxe: who do think is buying the DVDs in the UK? The tiny number of people who watched it on Sky? I know about a dozen people who have seen GOT, and only one of them has Sky. And he hasn’t even bought the DVDs.

    Aside from the advertising effect, consider this: people who aren’t spending hundreds of dollars a year on cable fees aren’t putting that money in their pensions. The allowance people grant themselves for entertainment remains more or less the same whether or not they file-share. Saving money on one thing just means they spend more on another. For instance, music-downloaders may or may not spend less on buying music (the evidence is mixed and inadequate – one survey found that of 22 studies, 14 showed they bought less, 3 showed they bought the same, and 5 showed they bought more – but none of them are really reliable), but the evidence seems pretty clear that they go to more music concerts.

    People in the UK who aren’t paying for Sky just have more money to spend on DVDs and merchandising. If there were no file-sharing, the audience for HBO would be far, far smaller, and also considerably less endowed with spare cash.

  90. Knurk
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar:
    JamesL,

    That makes more sense, yes. The Wikipedia phrasing there is not too clear. 7.5 is indeed a huge number … Goes to show how hard it is to find the numbers. Has anyone else had more luck?

    I changed the Wiki to 1.5 million with a link to a USA-today article. I’m not going to be bothered to look up the rest of Rome’s episode ratings :p.

  91. Ross
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Wastrel,

    Oh don’t be ridiculous. First, nobody really believes that piracy is theft, anymore than photography is theft. It’s illegal, yes, but it isn’t theft – it’s not what the word ‘theft’ means in common language, it’s not what ‘theft’ means in any ethical theory, and you know what, it isn’t theft according to the law.
    I’ll repeat that point: copyright infringement is not morally or legally theft.

    If you won’t take my word on it, how about the United States Supreme Court’s word: “interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft”. [To be theft, you have to take control of the thing with the intent to deprive the owner of the ability to use the thing]. But hey, don’t let the law or the language stop you. I don’t know why people don’t apply the principle more widely. Call gay marriage ‘theft’, call drug use ‘theft’, call burning the american flag ‘theft’. Nobody likes theft, right?

    Now, on the broader point: I think it’s alarming how defenders of (the recent and expanding definitions of) copyright seem unable to distinguish law from morality. Do you not understand the concept of right and wrong separate from what you might get punished for?

    Yes, copyright infringement is illegal, we all know that, so it’s not a matter of people saying things as “legal defences”. People are saying things as moral defences, which are a different thing altogether and infinitely more important. We’re talking about right and wrong, not some infantile preoccupation with men in cars with flashing lights. If you want to persuade people that copyright infringement is wrong, give people reasons to think that it’s wrong – don’t just smugly say ‘well i don’t think the courts agree with you!’ – that makes it look as though you can’t distinguish ‘wrong’ from ‘i’ve been told not to do it’.

    Superdeluxe: who do think is buying the DVDs in the UK? The tiny number of people who watched it on Sky? I know about a dozen people who have seen GOT, and only one of them has Sky. And he hasn’t even bought the DVDs.

    Aside from the advertising effect, consider this: people who aren’t spending hundreds of dollars a year on cable fees aren’t putting that money in their pensions. The allowance people grant themselves for entertainment remains more or less the same whether or not they file-share. Saving money on one thing just means they spend more on another. For instance, music-downloaders may or may not spend less on buying music (the evidence is mixed and inadequate – one survey found that of 22 studies, 14 showed they bought less, 3 showed they bought the same, and 5 showed they bought more – but none of them are really reliable), but the evidence seems pretty clear that they go to more music concerts.

    People in the UK who aren’t paying for Sky just have more money to spend on DVDs and merchandising. If there were no file-sharing, the audience for HBO would be far, far smaller, and also considerably less endowed with spare cash.

    You can justify it to yourself all you like. It’s still wrong and it’s still theft. How people can’t see that with film / TV piracy baffles me.

  92. DH87
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Wastrel: If you want to persuade people that copyright infringement is wrong, give people reasons to think that it’s wrong – don’t just smugly say ‘well i don’t think the courts agree with you!’ – that makes it look as though you can’t distinguish ‘wrong’ from ‘i’ve been told not to do it’.

    Does a property owner have the right to deny access to his/her property for whatever legal reason he sees fit?

    What if HBO said “We don’t want non-HBO subscribers to have access because. . . . well, we just don’t want them to”? Isn’t that what has de facto taken place via HBO carriage agreements, for which it receives good money? It doesn’t have carriage (distribution) agreements worldwide or it doesn’t have carriage agreements that satisfy the pirates. HBO can deny DirecTV customers access to its programming if DirecTV doesn’t pay acceptable carriage fees.

    How is piracy any different?

    Your argument is that if I don’t allow you to rent my vehicle when I’m not using it—because I don’t find it convenient, or I don’t like the rental terms you offer, or I just don’t want to— you plan to use it any way, because you have a “moral right” to access to a vehicle. You aren’t denying me access—-I’ll still have it when I want it—-so it is not “strictly theft.” Is that correct?

  93. Nagga's Kin
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    1) Intellectual content is information representing either know-how, the potential to entertain or some other idea(s).

    2) An intellectual asset is a sequence of data in some format on some physical carrier for that intellectual content.

    3) Intellectual property of an intellectual asset comprises the monopoly rights to enjoy , modify and duplicate the original, to modify a duplicate and automatically acquire property over the resulting asset and, to distribute duplicates subject to usage restrictions and compensation.

    Intellectual property is protected by patent and copyright law. However, other laws can restrict those, e.g. to protect children and more controversially, the sensibilities of socially conservative members of the general public.

    Copyright law limits property by excluding certain “fair use” actions, e.g. excerpting small fraction for the purpose of discussion, making copies to other physical carriers for personal use etc. What exactly constitutes fair use is subject to interpretation and litigation. This is why owners often require customers to accept legally binding verbiage spelling out exactly what they are and/or what they are not allowed to do with their legally obtained duplicate(s). Clauses that restrict general fair use may be ruled null and void in litigation.

    Ergo, there is a grey area, especially for entertainment assets. Letting your significant other enjoy your subscription to HBO definitely constitutes fair use. Letting a small number of of your family, friends and/or neighbors do so is probably also ok. Hooking your setup box to a large screen and speakers in your driveway for a block party almost certainly isn’t.

    Ripping a cable TV stream doesn’t constitute fair use IMHO. Publishing the resulting asset on a public internet server most definitely does not, even if downloads are free of charge. The server operator usually claims to be a carrier just like the network operator, i.e. unaware of the content of the assets and therefore not aiding and abetting any copyright violation(s). However, if the property holder informs him of (a) specific case(s), the server operator is obliged at a minimum to take that/those asset(s) down as soon as possible and to cancel the uploader(s) account(s). The fact that the same person(s) can simply create (a) new account(s) for the same publishing service is a bone of contention.

    A person downloading what he/she can reasonably be expected to know is an illegal copy of an asset is a violating copyright because downloading entails making yet another copy and enjoying that without the property holder’s consent. However, the end consumer is a small fish compared to the person(s) responsible for creating and publishing the ripped asset.

  94. DH87
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Nagga’s Kin,

    Excellent post.

    There is no compelling public interest in allowing free dissemination of entertainment products (as opposed to information deemed timely, vital, and substantive) and considerable evidence that allowing that dissemination free of charge infringes on corporate entities’ right to receiving fair market value for their products.

    As you said, you can spend a great deal of money in litigating the boundaries of “fair use” of intellectual property. Many folks, primarily corporations, have done so in the past and continue to do so as technologies change, allowing dozens of courts the opportunity—on other people’s dime—of opining on each and every nook and cranny of that gray area.

  95. Wastrel
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    DH87,

    The compelling public interest is not in preserving freedom per se, but in opposing restrictions to freedom, which amounts to the same thing. The invention of these “rights” of billionaires is used to justify sweeping invasive powers for the state. Back when these people were insisting it was theft to record a TV programme onto VHS and watch it more than once, nobody really cared, because they weren’t sending people into your homes to enforce their laws.

    Nagga’s Kin: again, you’re talking about the law (i.e. trivia).

    Ross: you can repeat that it’s theft again and again. The courts disagree with you, and so does every moral theorist I’ve come across who’s talked about it.

    DH87: legally speaking, no, a property owner does not have the right to deny access to their property for whatever reasons they wish. There are all sorts of examples of this. For one: owning a piece of land does not necessarily give you the right to deny people access to that land – there may be a public right of way through the land. In copyright law, it is recognised that in some cases the ‘property owner’ does not have the right to deny use – hence “fair use” defences.

    However, the more important point is that the material in question is not HBO’s property. If I buy a DVD, that DVD is my property, not HBO’s – both legally and morally. This is easy to show – if the DVD remained HBO’s property, then they could prevent me from watching it on their whim, or they could sell it to somebody else, or they could watch it whenever they chose – but in fact it’s my property, and I can watch it, and prevent others from watching it, and if I so choose sell it. It’s my property. The corporate argument is therefore that although the DVD is my property, there are certain things I should not be allowed to do with it anyway (eg rip it onto my computer). Now, doing these things may be breaking contract, if the DVD comes with a contract saying I will not do these things. But it isn’t theft, and it isn’t any other sort of violation of property rights either.
    [And no, the content of the DVD isn't their property either - otherwise they could stop me watching the content, or they could choose to delete the content.]

    Intellectual property is not property, and very different laws and moral principles apply in many respects. Intellectual property is a system of state-granted temporary monopolies designed to incentivise creative entrepeneurs. It is entirely legitimate to defend them on these grounds – but pretending that they’re the same as conventional property is just ludicrous, and will not persuade anybody.
    [And it's a surprise, by the way, that more right-wing commentators, usually, theoretically, opposed to state support of monopolies, don't protest against these monopolistic practices]

    [[[And not that it matters, but no, if I live in your house while you're away without your permission, that's not theft. It's probably trespass, but it's not theft.]]

    [[[And no, that's not my argument, and never have been. My argument is that you don't own the car. My further argument would be that any transgressions that might take place in file-sharing lie with the one who first shared (who may be violating some contract in doing so), not with the one with whom the file is shared. This is also, by the way, the view of an increasing number of countries - eg Switzerland and Canada]]]

  96. Nagga's Kin
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Wastrel: Nagga’s Kin: again, you’re talking about the law (i.e. trivia).

    Yeah sure, the law is “trivial” and can be ignored whenever you decide it is “morally” indefensible to follow it – with you deciding what’s moral. That’s not how things work in a free society with a functioning democracy.

    If I buy a DVD, that DVD is my property, not HBO’s – both legally and morally.

    Let me clarify my previous comment regarding the nature of intellectual property. The monopoly rights accrue to the content creator. He is free to give or sell you a copy subject to usage restrictions. If you want to be a reseller, you pay for one set of rights. If you’re an end use, you pay a smaller price for a more limited set. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you subscribe to capitalism as the basis of economic life, property is moral.

    This is my last attempt to get you to understand this.

  97. Langkard
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Wastrel: Oh don’t be ridiculous. First, nobody really believes that piracy is theft, anymore than photography is theft. It’s illegal, yes, but it isn’t theft – it’s not what the word ‘theft’ means in common language, it’s not what ‘theft’ means in any ethical theory, and you know what, it isn’t theft according to the law.
    I’ll repeat that point: copyright infringement is not morally or legally theft.

    If you won’t take my word on it, how about the United States Supreme Court’s word: “interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft”. [To be theft, you have to take control of the thing with the intent to deprive the owner of the ability to use the thing]. But hey, don’t let the law or the language stop you. I don’t know why people don’t apply the principle more widely. Call gay marriage ‘theft’, call drug use ‘theft’, call burning the american flag ‘theft’. Nobody likes theft, right?

    Now, on the broader point: I think it’s alarming how defenders of (the recent and expanding definitions of) copyright seem unable to distinguish law from morality. Do you not understand the concept of right and wrong separate from what you might get punished for?

    Yes, copyright infringement is illegal, we all know that, so it’s not a matter of people saying things as “legal defences”. People are saying things as moral defences, which are a different thing altogether and infinitely more important. We’re talking about right and wrong, not some infantile preoccupation with men in cars with flashing lights. If you want to persuade people that copyright infringement is wrong, give people reasons to think that it’s wrong – don’t just smugly say ‘well i don’t think the courts agree with you!’ – that makes it look as though you can’t distinguish ‘wrong’ from ‘i’ve been told not to do it’.

    We’re talking about right and wrong and also what is or isn’t illegal. In this case, copyright infringement is wrong both morally and legally. What about that are you having such a difficult time understanding?

    I direct you to the following article which explains your grave error in reasoning, one common among those who like to argue against copyright piracy being equivalent to theft:

    http://www.copyhype.com/2010/09/is-copyright-infringement-theft/

    In particular, I point your attention to the following portion of that article which deals directly with your misuse of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the matter. Pay attention to the part in bold which deals specifically with what you posted.

    The argument over applying terms like “theft” to copyright infringement is not, however, about whether the comparison is legally appropriate, but about the similarities between the two in the colloquial sense of the word. This is where the opponents of the word begin to falter – attempting to prove their point by using the legal definition of the word to trump the colloquial definition. In other words, the argument goes, since the legal meaning of theft differs from the legal meaning of copyright infringement, any comparison between the two is invalid. By itself, this argument is barely worth refuting, but it has unfortunately been bolstered by the misuse of language from an otherwise inconsequential Supreme Court decision.This type of quote-mining from case law is prevalent in many debates – sort of a cross between an appeal to authority and contextomy – a practice that merits further discussion. If we want to learn what the law means, it sometimes help to understand common errors in understanding the law.

    And just to make the point absolutely clear, even for someone so determined to defend piracy at all costs such as yourself, Wastrel:

    Or to use your own words, “If you won’t take my word on it, how about the United States Supreme Court’s word”? I give you the opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer in MGM v Grokster:

    No one disputes that “reward to the author or artist serves to induce release to the public of the products of his creative genius.” United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 U. S. 131, 158 (1948). And deliberate unlawful copying is no less an unlawful taking of property than garden-variety theft.

    So…

    You don’t think Justice Breyer understands right from wrong and has “an infantile preoccupation with men in cars with flashing lights” or are you just blowing smoke up peoples’ asses hoping no one will catch you in your errors?

  98. Langkard
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    And I want to thank you, Wastrel, for pointing out that we’re in a helicopter. Kudos.


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