‘Game of Thrones’ Most Pirated TV Show in 2019

HBO may be back atop the industry when it comes to award nominations and wins, but the premium channel’s programming also has the distinction of being the top pirated.

Citing data from file-sharing platform BitTorrent, separate site TorrentFreak said HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones” was the most pirated TV show in 2019. That was followed by the Award-winning miniseries Chernobyl and Disney+ rookie series “The Mandalorian.”

“Thrones” was also the most pirated TV show in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The show didn’t air episodes in 2018.

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Other top pirated series included “The Big Bang Theory,” “Vikings,” “The Walking Dead” (a previous winner), “Rick and Morty,” and DC Comics shows “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”

Indeed, TorrentFreak contends the mere presence of new “Thrones” content in 2019 spiked illegal viewing 8% worldwide.

“The demand for piracy of ‘Game of Thrones’ is unprecedented,” Phil Taylor, analyst at Muso, told the platform. “The demand for “GOT” was so high that it visibly increased traffic for domains such as thepiratebay.org.”

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HBO Nabs 10 SAG Award Nominations

HBO received 10 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for the upcoming 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be presented Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Nominations included:

Three for “Game of Thrones”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage); Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Comedy Or Drama Series.

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Two for “Barry”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader).

Two for “Chernobyl”: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Jared Harris); Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Emily Watson).

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One for “Big Little Lies”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

One for “True Detective”: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Mahershala Ali).

One for “Watchmen”: Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Comedy Or Drama Series.

WarnerMedia, Comcast’s Sky Extend Content Distribution Deal

HBO Max may be the future, but distribution across existing and competing platforms overseas is just as important.

WarnerMedia has extended a distribution agreement with Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky in Europe.

First established in 2010, the new agreement includes distribution through HBO of Warner Bros. movies, Cartoon Network and Boomerang episodic programming.

Content has included “Watchmen,” “Succession” and “Big Little Lies,” in addition to Sky originals such as “Patrick Melrose,” “Babylon Berlin” and “Gomorrah.”

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“Our partnership with HBO, and now Warner Media, has never been stronger as Sky continues to thrive as Europe’s leading direct-to-consumer media and entertainment business,” Gary Davey, CEO of Sky Studios, said in a statement. “Customers love our Sky original productions and together, Sky Studios and HBO Max will bring them more unique stories that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Sky and WarnerMedia also extended co-production deals with Sky Studios and HBO Max working together on original content.

Co-production Chernobyl garnered 10 Primetime Emmys, and latest co-production “Catherine the Great,” with Helen Mirren, received critical acclaim following its U.K. broadcast debut this month.

“We are thrilled to find new ways to deepen our longstanding relationship with Sky, and bring a fresh dimension to the great content we continue to bring to consumers,” said Jeffrey Schlesinger, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, in a statement.

Sky Original Content Productions Spur Q3 Revenue Growth

Sky original content productions continue to drive the United Kingdom satellite TV operator’s bottom line.

The Comcast-owned subsidiary Oct. 24 reported that original content and sports programming increased third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue 15.4% to $315 million from $273 million during the previous-year period.

Pre-tax earnings skyrocketed 46% to $899 million from $650 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 0.9% to $4.5 billion from $4.7 billion last year.

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Specifically, Sky has triumphed from original series licensing of “Chernobyl,” “Patrick Melrose” and “Catherine The Great” to HBO.

Sky credited “Chernobyl,” which won 12 Primetime Emmys, for driving record subscriber growth in Q2. With the conclusion of the series’ initial broadcast, Sky said net customer relationships dropped in Q3 by 99,000.

Still total consumer relationships, which includes over-the-top video platform Now TV, have increased by 482,000 in the past 12 months.

Sky ended the period with 23.9 million subscribers, up 2.1% from 23.4 million during the previous-year period.

HBO, Streamers Nearly Sweep 2019 Primetime Emmys

In the latest indicator that the subscription model has all but conquered the television landscape as far as the prescription for quality programming goes, HBO and a handful of SVOD services won 21 of the 27 categories awarded during the televised Emmys ceremony Sept. 22.

HBO led with nine wins, including Outstanding Drama Series for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the fourth time the series captured that crown. Peter Dinklage also won his fourth Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy.

The pay-TV network, of course, pioneered the model of leveraging prestige programming to garner subscribers, albeit as an add-on to cable packages decades before the internet would allow SVOD services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video to adopt the practice as well (and for HBO to offer its own SVOD app).

Another big winner for HBO was the miniseries Chernobyl, a harrowing account of the eponymous nuclear disaster of 1986 and the inherent corruption of socialist bureaucracies in both the cause of and response to the crisis. It won for Outstanding Limited Series as well as directing and writing in the limited series/TV movie categories.

Among additional HBO wins, Bill Hader won his second Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series trophy for “Barry,” “Succession” won for drama series writing, and “ Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won for Outstanding Variety Talk Series and for variety series writing.

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The show with the biggest haul was Amazon Prime Video’s “Fleabag,” with four trophies, including Outstanding Comedy Series. The show, about the adventures of a sexually aggressive woman living in London, was created by and stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and for writing the show. It also won an Emmy for directing.

Prime Video had seven wins for the night, also taking Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal, while “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won Outstanding Comedy Series Supporting Actor and Actress for Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein, respectively (with Borstein repeating her win from last year).

Netflix won for Outstanding Television Movie for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the famed interactive film with the “choose-your-own-adventure” narrative that allowed the viewer to pick which action the main character should take at several points throughout the story. and

Also adding to Netflix’s tally of four were two trophies for “Ozark,” with Julie Garner pulling in a surprising Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series win, and series star Jason Bateman winning for directing the episode “The Gold Coast.” Netflix’s When They See Us won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Jharrel Jerome,

Hulu’s lone trophy came for Patricia Arquette winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for “The Act.”

Sticking things out in the basic cable camp, FX shows won a pair of Emmys, with Michelle Williams taking Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for playing Gwen Verdon in FX’s Fosse/Verdon, and Billy Porter being named Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for “Pose.” VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” won Outstanding Competition Program, while Jodie Comer won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the second season of BBC America’s “Killing Eve,”

And still carrying the flag for broadcast television was NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which managed wins for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and variety directing.

HBO Reclaims Primetime Emmy Award Nominations Lead from Netflix

HBO July 16 received a record-breaking 137 Primetime Emmy nominations for the upcoming 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22. HBO’s previous record was set in 2015 with 126 nominations.

Netflix in 2018 broke HBO’s 17-year nomination crown with 112 noms compared to 108 noms for HBO.

As expected, “Game of Thrones” again led all shows with 32 nominations, the most of any program, while “Chernobyl” received 19 noms, “Barry” received 17 nominations and “Veep,” “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” and “True Detective” each received 9 noms.

HBO will soon spearhead WarnerMedia’s pending subscription streaming service, HBO Max.

“Game of Thrones” nominations include Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kit Harington), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Emilia Clarke), four for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams), three for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Carice van Houten), three for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss).

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“Chernobyl” includes Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Jared Harris), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Emily Watson), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Stellan Skarsgård), Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series or Movie (Johan Renck), and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special (Craig Mazin)

“Barry” includes Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Sarah Goldberg), 3 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler), 2 for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Alec Berg, Bill Hader) and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Alec Berg and Bill Hader).

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” includes Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series (Paul Pennolino), Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Interactive Program.

“True Detective” includes Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Mahershala Ali).

“Veep” includes Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Tony Hale), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Anna Chlumsky), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol) and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (David Mandel)

Deadwood: The Movie is up for Outstanding Television Movie.

Sharp Objects noms include Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Amy Adams) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Patricia Clarkson).

Leaving Neverland includes Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program (Dan Reed).

“Succession” includes Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Adam McKay) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Jesse Armstrong).

Other HBO nominees include “Ballers,” “Brexit,” “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” “Flight of the Conchords: Live In London,” “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch,” “Insecure,” “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” “The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti,” “My Dinner with Hervé,” “The Sentence,” “Song of Parkland” and “When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special.”

In addition, the Cinemax series “Warrior” received a nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design.

HBO June 2019 Slate Includes Several Digital Downloads, One DVD

HBO Home Entertainment has announced a slew of content for digital download in June, plus one title for DVD.

Due on digital June 3 and on DVD June 4 will be Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, a documentary about the 28-year-old African-American from Chicago who was arrested for a traffic violation in Texas and found three days later hanging from a noose in her jail cell.

Due for digital download June 10 will be Barry: Season 2. Desperate to leave his violent past as an assassin behind in favor of his newfound passion for acting, Barry (Bill Hader) keeps getting dragged back into his old life by a variety of factors.

Also available for digital download June 10 is My Dad Wrote a Porno, a comedy special based on the popular British comedy podcast in which host Jamie Morton reads a chapter from the “Belinda Blinked” series of “erotic” novels, written by his real-life father under the pseudonym “Rocky Flintstone.” Friends of Morton, James Cooper and Alice Levine, join on stage, providing uproarious commentary.

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Due for digital download June 17 is Momentum Generation. In the 1960s, surfing in America was known primarily as a California- and Hawaii-based phenomenon associated with surf instrumentals and Beach Boys songs. Although equipment and skills evolved, the public’s perception of surfing remained constant until the 1990s, when a group of punk rock-loving teens found its way to a house on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. In Momentum Generation, the core members of that crew — including Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox, Benji Weatherley, Kalani Robb, Ross Williams, Taylor Steele and Pat O’Connell — tell their story together for the first time.

Also available digitally June 17 is My True Brilliant Friend, a documentary that follows young actresses Margherita Mazzucco and Gaia Girace during the filming of the HBO series “My Brilliant Friend,” based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling book of the same name.

Another June 17 digital release is Home Videos, Jerrod Carmichael’s exploration into aspects of the black experience through interviews with his family. In the first of two specials, Carmichael focuses on the strong black women in his life, returning home to North Carolina, featuring informal, intimate conversations with his family and friends, who speak candidly about subjects such as sex, confidence, beauty standards and feminism.

Coming June 24 for digital download is Chernobyl, a dramatization of the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union. The digital release also includes the companion bonus content piece “Pivotal Moment: The Trial,” which explores the climactic trial scene in interviews with director Johan Renck, writer/executive producer Craig Mazin, and stars Emily Watson and Jared Harris.

AT&T CEO: WarnerMedia Looking to Partner SVOD Service With Pay-TV Operators

WarnerMedia’s pending fourth-quarter soft-launch of a branded subscription streaming video service will look to partner with — rather than antagonize — third-party pay-TV operators.

Speaking May 14 at the JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Communications  Conference in New York, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, said the service would be centered around HBO and be included with a pay-TV subscription.

“The MVPDs, Comcast, we think are going to be an important partner to all of this,” Stephenson said. “If you’re a Comcast subscriber and you acquire HBO, you will get this [OTT video] capability with your HBO subscription on Comcast.”

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The proposed symbiotic relationship between SVOD and linear television distribution is significant considering the former was launched in part to replace pay-TV.

Indeed, Dish Network launched pioneering Sling TV in 2015 in an effort to offset declining satellite TV subscribers. AT&T followed with DirecTV Now.

Yet, online TV subscriber growth has cooled. Sling added just 7,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal period, and DirecTV Now lost 83,000 subs compared to a gain of 312,000 subs last year.

Stephenson said the new SVOD service is projected to generate “tens of millions of subs” — a figure dependent upon AT&T sustaining its base of DirecTV and U-verse subscribers.

The strategy is not dissimilar with Comcast, which plans to launch an OTT service free to Xfinity subscribers, with non-subscribers charged a monthly fee.

“Keeping the satellite, the U-verse customer base in check and stable is really important because it’s going to be a major distribution platform [for SVOD],” Stephenson said. “And then we want to just continue to push digital distribution on top of that as well.”

Much of that distribution will be centered around HBO, which is currently generating strong viewership through the last season of “Game of Thrones”.

Stephenson said content investment at HBO has “stepped up considerably” this year with the second seasons of “Big Little Lies” and “Succession” slated to follow “Thrones,” in addition to new series, “Chernobyl”.

“We’ve got a lot of really great content coming online as ‘Game of Thrones’ winds down,” he said.