Let's look at two contemporary examples. The first one is House of Cards, a popular series that was produced by Netflix and is available only via the Internet. The show's star and executive producer, Kevin Spacey, pointed out in a speech before the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival earlier this year that when you give people what they want, they will pay for it.
"And through this new form of distribution, we have proved that we learned the lesson the music industry didn't learn," Spacey said. "Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price and they'll more likely pay for it, rather than steal it. Well, some will still steal it, but I think we can take a bite out of piracy."
Contrast that with HBO's Game of Thrones. HBO tightly controls its distribution. It generally doesn't syndicate with networks, cable or streaming services like Hulu Plus or Netflix. That means that if you aren't an HBO subscriber, you can't see Game of Thrones. Yet millions of people want to see it, and many of those manage to do that by stealing it. The series topped TorrentFreak's list of the most pirated shows list in 2012, a dubious honor indeed. And Mashable reported that through June it was the most pirated show of 2013.
But it seems the big media companies never learn. Studies and real-life examples like House of Cards might show otherwise, but big media believes what it wants to believe and still tries for total control, even when it's clear that it doesn't work.
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