HBO’s Richard Plepler Weighs In On Game Of Thrones Piracy, Says ‘Maybe’ On Broadband-Only HBO

When TechCrunch attended the San Francisco premiere of Game of Thrones Season 3, we didn’t just ask the cast members about their smartphones. I also had a few minutes to talk to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, when I asked him about the show’s status as the most-pirated program of 2012.

“Well, look, it’s the good news and the bad news, right?” Plepler said. “The good news is that a lot of people want to see it. Over 12.5 million people are watching it legally. And most of that pirating is occurring overseas. We’re going to do what we can to bring that down, and we’re going to do what we can, obviously, to bring that down in the United States as well.”

When I asked Plepler about HBO’s next steps from a tech and distribution perspective, he said that the model is giving customers “a whole lot of programming across a lot of different genres” that they can watch on any screen they want: “As long as we give that for a fair price, we like our model very much.”

Following up, I asked Plepler to predict where what HBO’s distribution will look like in five or ten years, and he replied:

The most important thing for us is creating content that is addictive. … And if we continue to create great content, then the means of distribution, while very important — people are going to find it. So what we want to do with HBO Go is give people as much optionality as we possibly can. …

Where do I think we’ll be in five years? I think there may be even more optionality, but with our partners. With our partners in the cable business, satellite business, and the telco business. Maybe even a broadband-only HBO delivery system. Who knows? We’ll see where that goes down the road.

That’s very far from a commitment to broadband-only HBO, but it isn’t an outright rejection of the idea either. Apparently Plepler made similar comments to Reuters, prompting AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka to remind readers why it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.