According to Time Warner CEO Alan Bewkes,
…if you go to people who are watching it without [subscriptions], it’s a tremendous word-of-mouth thing. …We’ve been dealing with this for 20, 30 years—people sharing [subscriptions], running wires down the backs of apartment buildings. Our experience is that it leads to more paying [subscriptions]. I think you’re right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. That’s better than an Emmy.
Bewkes’s comment took the media world by surprise. A corporate CEO actually cheering on illegal downloading? Where’s Napster when you need it?
Bewkes isn’t the only exec praising media piracy:
In April, HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo said that “piracy” should be taken as a compliment. “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts. The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
A compliment? Possibly. But piracy isn’t exactly the economic boon these execs would lead you to believe. According to the Record Industry Association of America:
One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.