Game of Thrones is about a collection of power-hungry individuals. This, it turns out, is appropriate. Because the machines many people use to experience the show—cable boxes, allowing live and time-shifted viewing—are themselves collections of power-hungry individuals. Set-top boxes, the Los Angeles Times reports, are shockingly greedy energy-guzzlers. There are approximately 224 million of them in the United States, dotted across the nation's living rooms and bedrooms and taprooms. And, combined, they consume approximately the same amount of electricity as would be produced by four nuclear reactors—enormous ones, running around the clock.
That's because they are, unlike Game of Thrones viewers, extremely bad at enjoying some downtime. The boxes don't just consume power when you're using them; they also suck up energy when they're turned off. That's in turn because there's a whole mess of work being done under the boxes' casing: spinning hard drives, program guide updates, software downloads, all going on in the background. To the extent that "the devices," the Times puts it, "use nearly as much power turned off as they do when they are turned on."