More details are emerging about how HBO has been handling the Game of Thrones leak. A few weeks ago, hackers got into the HBO servers and leaked upcoming scripts and episodes of Game of Thrones in an attempt to extort money from the cable channel. It didn't work, and the leaked episode, "Spoils of War", was the highest-rated episode of Game of Thrones to date.
Reuters is reporting more details about how HBO has been handling the hackers, who had demanded $6 million to keep the compromised episodes from being leaked. On July 27, a senior VP offered the hackers $250,000, while saying, "You have the advantage of having surprised us. In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week."
The email also stated that the company needed the time to arrange setting up a Bitcoin account to transfer the demanded funds. But Reuters' source insists that this was just a stall tactic, and the company never intended to pay the hackers a cent.
Game of Thrones is in a slightly different situation than a network show when it comes to leaks. As a subscription service, HBO doesn't rely on commercials to earn money. So even if "Spoils of War" had the lowest ratings of the series, it wouldn't really matter to HBO's bottom line. One free episode (and an undoubtedly terrible-quality one at that) would not cause viewers to cancel their HBO subscriptions. As it stands, Game of Thrones is consistently one of the most pirated shows in history, and it doesn't seem to be impacting HBO's subscriber base.
Maybe the hackers will learn something from all this: Just stop it.