Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally 54 million times when the first episode from Season 8 came out.
Think about that for a second.
54 million illegal downloads for one episode. “Game Of Thrones” is the modern day definition of being a rock star.
In the same way fans waited for the release of a new album of music from their favorite artists, fans of the Game Of Thrones books and TV shows are eagerly awaiting the release of each episode of the final season plus the next novel installment.
How did it get like this?
How did a TV show and a book replace rock and roll in the public conversation?
By taking risks and nothing being off limits.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Game of Thrones. It didn’t start off with huge numbers and viewership. Because of greed the show was behind paywalls, so it became popular among illegal downloaders. This was built with each season and each episode. As it grew in illegal downloads, it also grew in legal viewership. As a byproduct, the books sold even more which in turn led to more money in the long term and a bigger TV show and a bigger budget.
And for book writer George RR Martin this is bitter sweet, as he wrote stories (which got rejected) for decades before Game Of Thrones became a hit.
Meanwhile, Hollywood is complaining about their low box office returns, as they still go about doing things the old way with cinematic releases and Netflix does things the new way and is cleaning up with viewership.
Videogames outgross movies, Netflix does better than Hollywood and streaming services have put billions back into the recording industry but there’s still no respect to these services. Just ask legacy creator Steve Spielberg who wants Netflix movies banned from being considered for Oscars.
Netflix knows that views are more important than cash, and they also know fans of art have no problem paying to suit their convenience. Going to a cinema at a predetermined time for prices ranging between $13 and $18, paying top dollar for popcorn and drinks and enduring people’s chewing or wrapper noise or talking and all of the other bullshit, well that’s not convenient anymore and society has changed a lot from when going to cinemas was seen as a social hang.
Then again, I took the kids to watch “Avengers: End Game” and it felt like the past, with lots of people, no car spots available and a buzz about what was on offer.
But, like in music, the war is over and Netflix won.
But artists and songwriters are still complaining about the royalty payments they receive from their streaming service, which they seem to forget that the streaming service in most cases will pay their label or publisher, who will then pay them?
Did these artists forget how their label went to war against Napster and then refused to license Spotify to the point that YouTube (which pays less) got traction?
Did these artists forget the advance payment they got from the label and how the labels creative accounting arm is ensuring that the artists stays in the minus, while the label gets the larger share of the streaming payments?
And if you are a creator with dreams of reaching critical mass, well you are contending with streaming platforms churning out content, video games, smartphone makers, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat and the millions of other creators trying to make it, just like you.
Plus a TV show.