The Season 5 debut of Game of Thrones was clearly one of the most anticipated media events of the year. Simulcast to HBO subscribers around the globe, Episode 1 didn't disappoint, becoming the highest-rated GoT episode of all time and one of the most-watched shows in HBO history.
The return of Game of Thrones also lit up peer-to-peer (P2P) networks worldwide, as the following points attest:
•Over 18 million consumers downloaded 32 million Game of Thrones files on P2P networks in the 7 days beginning Sunday, April 13. This includes activity associated with a 4-episode leak early Sunday morning, US time. The result is that about as many viewers watched a shared-file version of GoT, as watched GoT on HBO.
•Though the much publicized 4-episode leak generated interest among P2P users, Episode 1 drove P2P activity for the week, accounting for as many downloads as Episodes 2, 3, and 4 combined. Interestingly, a documentary preview entitled Game of Thrones Season 5: A Day in the Life, was downloaded as often as any of the leaked episodes, suggesting an opportunity for HBO to make similar promotional content more widely available as a means of attracting potential HBO subscribers.
•All told, more than 1 in 5 Episode 1 viewers watched a version of the show obtained on a P2P network. This is more of an indication of the magnitude of the monetization opportunity for HBO than an indictment of HBO Now, HBO's a la carte streaming service, which became available to subscribers only days before Episode 1 aired.
•In the US alone, nearly 1 million consumers downloaded Episode 1, which translates to $44 million in unmonetized demand potential if each of these viewers subscribed to HBO Now for the 3-month duration of GoT Season 5. Many of these viewers are prime prospects for unbundled services like HBO Now. Tru Optik's unique ability to target millions of GoT and P2P viewers at scale can empower HBO to deliver targeted advertising to these consumers, and is already being leveraged in the same way by other networks and OTT solution providers.