Winter is coming. Again. Or, it has come back already, or still, or whatever. Look, I don’t know, I just love Game of Thrones. Lots of other people like it too, which means that lots of people watch on HBO…and a lot of others watch it through illegitimate sources, making it the “most pirated” of shows. Part of the reason it’s so pirated is that access has traditionally been restricted to those with HBO cable subscriptions. Still, HBO being pissed over some fans pirating the show is understandable.
Less understandable is HBO going after non-pirate fans, such as a GoT viewing party at a local Bronx watering hole.
HBO recently sent a cease and desist letter to the owners of Videology bar in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, asking them to stop their Game of Thrones weekly viewing parties.
“As a pay subscription service, HBO should not be made available in public establishments,” a spokesperson for the network told the Daily News “When it does happen, it is of particular concern when there is an attempt to profit off the programming. We have taken such actions for well over a decade.”
Yes, HBO, you have indeed taken these kinds of actions for well over a decade. But things have changed over that decade that you might want to pay attention to. Cable subscriptions are in the decline, for instance, meaning that content producers are going to have to find other avenues to keep consumption at the same levels. Also, and you probably noticed this…Game of Thrones is insanely popular and profitable, even with all of the actual piracy going on. Targeting a bar that holds a party for fans of the show isn’t just useless, it’s plainly damaging to the brand, the fanship, and the spread of the fanbase. I mean, is anyone really suggesting that the patrons who attended this viewing party were all planning on immediately cancelling their HBO subscriptions, and instead planning to watch their beloved show at the bar every week? Or is it more likely that these patrons all probably are HBO customers who just want to get in a group once in a while and collectively watch their show? And how many new fans will miss on the opportunity to jump into the GoT fervor because this event isn’t going to take place?
The bar in question seems to get what HBO doesn’t, of course.
“Seeing that many other bars in the neighborhood and around the city were showing it, we made the assumption that HBO believed, as we do, that public screenings were in the best interest of both HBO and the fans, since GOT is enjoyed on a deeper level as a communal event,” co-owner Wendy Chamberlain told the NYDN. “But in the end, it’s not up to us.”
And so HBO misses another opportunity to grow the show’s fanbase and brand, if only it could just behave in a human and awesome way for once.