HBO’s Game of Thrones is easily one of the network’s most popular shows, heading into its fourth season with an incredible amount of buzz and viewer anticipation. That said, not all fans are watching the show in the “official” way, as it’s considered the most pirated show of 2012, complete with downloads from torrents and other sources.

While piracy is a big problem when it comes to sales, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes actually believes the attention is better than any coveted award that the show receives. After talking about the show’s spike in ratings, he explained that piracy was “a tremendous word-of-mouth thing,” as far as getting attention.

“If you go around the world, I think you’re right, that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world,” he stated. “Now that’s better than an Emmy.”

The director of Game of Thrones, David Petrarca, felt the same way, stating that piracy lends to the show’s “cultural buzz”. Even the creator of the original books, George R.R. Martin, felt it was a “compliment,” but not the type he was looking to receive.

Thankfully, there’s still profit coming in, as Bewkes explained that people who subscribe to HBO aren’t just downloading the episodes for free, stating “we don’t see much of that.”

“People have always been running wires down the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors,” he concluded. “Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs and more health for HBO.”

The fourth season of Game of Thrones should make its debut sometime next year.

Source: The Verge