How do you react to a question about piracy when the hit television program you direct is the most downloaded show of 2012? If you are David Petrarca and your show is Game of Thrones, you simply shrug your shoulders and say that illegal downloads don’t really matter much because your program thrives on cultural buzz.
The director went on to say that shows like his capitalize on the social commentary they generate. “That’s how they survive,” he told a group of panelists at the Perth Writer’s Festival this past weekend.
To put things into perspective, Game of Thrones was downloaded on average roughly 3.9 million times per episode last year. The next closest show, How I Met Your Mother, was downloaded about a million times fewer per episode.
Petrarca pointed out the fact that HBO, the premium cable channel that airs Game of Thrones, has 26 million subscribers in the US and about 60 million worldwide. With those sort of numbers, there’s no shortage of money flowing in to allow the network to create high quality content despite some illegal downloads.
He also said that other hit shows like Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Mad Men are all doing well because, aside from having great writing and production, they can all be consumed whenever it is convenient for the viewer. The director further drove his point across by holding up his iPad and saying he could use it to watch television or even read a book while in bed.