For many years, there’s been an understanding in the entertainment world that HBO has built itself into a household name for premium television content. But with new technologies proliferating over the last couple of decades, the world of cable television has changed, and now HBO faces an enormous privacy problem.
For the last couple of years, reports have been coming out about users simply choosing to download HBO programming through file-sharing sites, torrent sites and other types of piracy venues. Questions arose about how much HBO cared about this piracy, and how it could stop it.
A 21st-Century Reality
Obviously, it’s entirely impossible to stop piracy altogether. Despite the new types of security certificates attached to files, massive public awareness campaigns, and legal crackdowns, people are still pirating music, movies and television in enormous volumes. There are just too many ways to get around content gatekeeping, right down to old analog methods of playing a video or audio stream and recording it on a secondary device.
To that end, HBO has gotten serious about anti-piracy efforts, not just by cracking down on violators, but by offering alternatives to users, in some of the same kinds of ways that governments provide amnesty programs for illegal immigrants. These new strategies say a lot about where the digital security and IP world is headed.
HBO Go vs HBO NOW with VPN Service
The HBO Go streaming service is reserved to HBO cable subscribers. Without a subscription to their network, access to the service is offered through an identical platform called HBO Now. What is even more interesting, is that HBO has decided to team up with the very popular VPN provider IPVanish. They now promote the usage of VPN services, in order to access the streaming service from anywhere in the world. This is unprecedented behavior from any large network, to encourage overseas users, who might otherwise completely miss out on Game of Thrones without the alternative piracy route.
One of the biggest and most heavily pirated HBO shows is “Game of Thrones”, George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular portrayal of a mythical past world ruled by drama and intrigue. Some piracy reports center specifically on the frenzy of illegal activity that accompanies GoT new season openings and other show events.
One way that HBO has gotten around this is by partnering with Apple to offer GoT TV on iTunes. The provider has offered the same strategy with other major popular shows, such as the new comedy “Silicon Valley” and some of its flagship programs that tend to get pirated the most. This piece in Polygon shows HBO strategy here, in allowing users to pay specific amounts to download a particular new show instead of buying an HBO cable package.
Untethering HBO from Cable
HBO has also gotten the memo that cable providers should start offering services on an online-only basis. Now, telecom providers like AT&T and Verizon have gotten into the mix, offering their own types of HBO packages that don’t involve adding this premium option to a cable TV order. This and related services like the HBO Go mobile app attempt to solve the more general problem of people who want the entire HBO package without the cable hookup. Just last year, Slate magazine reported on this sea change, as HBO embarked on offering this as-of-yet unprecedented service.
In other words, one of the biggest names in cable television is enticing customers toward other models, to get them away from resorting to illegal behavior just to see their shows. It’s a testament to the enduring popularity of HBO’s lineup, and it’s a smart move, because the most successful efforts at anti-piracy tomorrow will probably have more to do with coercion than enforcement.
If you’re going to be steaming from anywhere in the world, you’re going to need a fast VPN to keep up with the speed of your ‘net, so check out our top pick for fastest VPNs.