NPR logo

A Lannister Always Pays His Debts — But Do Too Many Of His Fans Watch For Free?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/189572677/189544623" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
A Lannister Always Pays His Debts — But Do Too Many Of His Fans Watch For Free?

Television

A Lannister Always Pays His Debts — But Do Too Many Of His Fans Watch For Free?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/189572677/189544623" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The TV event of the weekend is on Sunday on HBO. It's the season finale of "Game of Thrones." Its ratings have been huge this year. It was the most watched show on all of cable last week aside from basketball. That's especially notable because not everyone who has cable can watch "Game of Thrones." You have to pay extra for an HBO subscription. But as NPR's Neda Ulaby explains, some fans get what we'll call the sneaky friends and family discount.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Comedian Jessica Halem is one of those people who just loves HBO.

JESSICA HALEM: Because I love made-for-television premium shows where there's cursing and violence.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

But Halem is not going to pay to watch "Game of Thrones" on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Fantastic.

JEROME FLYNN: (as Bronn) But what if I don't?

ULABY: Her parents were nice enough to share their password to HBO Go, the streaming service that lets her watch on her computer.

HALEM: Luckily, they can't see what I'm watching.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

HARRY LLOYD: (as Viserys Targaryen) What have you seen?

ROXANNE MCKEE: (as Doreah) I've seen a man from Asshai with a dagger of real dragon glass.

LLOYD: (as Viserys Targaryen) Ooh.

ULABY: And there's a house in Philadelphia with a bunch of roommates eager to see "Game of Throne's" finale.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I have Hulu and Netflix and HBO Go.

ULABY: But this guy does not pay for all of them. He and his friends are promiscuous with their passwords.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Oh, come on, let us see it. Everybody talks about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Me and people in my circle commonly refer to this as hipster cable.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

PETER DINKLAGE: (as Tyrion Lannister) We're going to need details. Copious details.

ULABY: Here's how Hipster cable works in this case. Our guy, who does not want his name used on the air, traded his Hulu Plus password for his friend's Netflix and HBO GO passwords.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: This HBO Go does not belong to my friend Kitty who gives it to me. That HBO Go belongs to her parents. And they gave her the password and stuff so she could use it and then, by a proxy, share it with me.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

DINKLAGE: (as Tyrion Lannister) We owe them tens of millions.

ULABY: So this single password is getting shared by our guy, his housemates and probably Kitty's brothers, potentially dozens of people.

MICHAEL PACHTER: People should know better.

ULABY: That scold comes from tech analyst Michael Pachter of the firm Wedbush Securities. He estimates 20 percent of people streaming video use passwords they did not pay for.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: They should know they're stealing and they should not think it's OK.

ULABY: And Pachter says there are ways these companies could start cracking down.

PACHTER: Register the members of the household with the account so if two people use the same user ID at the same time, then the content owner is going to be notified that there's an illicit use, and they'll probably turn off both.

ULABY: Netflix and other companies claim they're not bothered by password-sharers. But recently, Netflix added an option that seemed to indicate concern. It allows four people to legally stream videos at the same time. Convincing the cable companies to allow a similar option for HBO Go would probably take an army.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Dracarys.

ULABY: Or a dragon. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.