Over the past month, HBO has aggressively focused on attracting millennial cord cutters.

A few weeks ago, HBO launched HBO Now, a reskin of their HBO Go service that gives cord cutters an option to pay for HBO rather than just using their ex’s parents’ account. Countless studies focus on millennial’s viewing habits, and the consistent trend is that they simply don’t want to pay for cable.

Today, HBO picked up High Maintenance, a formerly Vimeo-distributed web series about a Brooklyn-based weed delivery man. New York, weed, and a web series — if this formula sounds familiar, it’s because Comedy Central has proven it successful with Broad City.

But this weekend HBO’s legal department threw a wrench in the public relations hot streak; they sent a cease-and-desist letter to Videology, a Brooklyn video rental house-turned-bar that is well-known for screening popular shows including Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Mad Men. Videology wasn’t the only bar in the neighborhood that was showing Game Of Thrones. Screening popular shows has had the same effect as showing sporting events, helping bars draw crowds especially on nights that aren’t typically very busy.

The cease and desist isn’t a huge surprise given HBO’s future forward approach to cord cutters. They want users to subscribe rather than go to their local bar. However, the bar-viewing scene is both a contributor to and result of Game Of Thrones’ fanatical viewership; many fans prefer the communal viewing experience that saloons like Videology offer. Cracking down on such screenings can’t possibly be the most efficient way to curb piracy.

The most efficient method would be to not let episodes leak.


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