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(Pocket-lint) - Game of Thrones returned to UK screens on Monday night, US on Sunday, for its third season and so is bound to top Sky Atlantic's viewing charts for several weeks. It will also undoubtedly top another, less salubrious chart, aping former seasons' "honours" of being the most-pirated TV shows globally.

However, the programming president of HBO doesn't care. In fact, he considers it a compliment.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Michael Lombardo said that even though season 2 of GoT was the most downloaded TV series in 2012, it didn't impact on the financial success of the show at all.

"I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” he said. “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network."

Lombardo does have one major issue with his shows being illegally distributed on the internet, however:  they are rarely encoded in the best possible format. "One of my worries is about the copies [downloaders are] seeing,” the HBO president explained. “The production values of this show are so incredible. So I’m hoping that in the purloined different generation of cuts the show is holding up."

To see it in its best form (until the Blu-ray box set appears), Game of Thrones season 3 is being shown in the UK on Sky Atlantic HD at 9pm on Monday nights. It is also available to watch live or streamed on Sky Go, and is even available to download for offline viewing. Seasons 1 and 2 are also available on demand from Sky.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 16 April 2013.