The debut of the eagerly anticipated season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones, the penultimate season of the hit show, has seen piracy rates reach recent highs.
But torrenting activity for the season opener hasn't reached the highs from years past, not because the show has become less popular, nor because people have stopped pirating - it's because streaming has now taken over torrenting as the most popular form of piracy.
According to TorrentFreak, more than 130,000 people were simultaneously downloading from the top 3 most popular torrent for the episode 'Dragonstone'. This is down from the record set two years ago for the season 5 debut, which saw downloads reach as high as 250,000 simultaneous active sharers.
With increasing legal pressure on torrent downloaders, and with people preferring the convenience of streaming anyway, piracy streaming sites are also reporting record audiences. According to one site TorrentFreak spoke to, one such stream saw more than 20,000 views per hour, which the episodes expected to break through a million views in the near future.
The number of Australians downloading or streaming may also have been higher than usual, as the only legal streaming outlet for the new episode experienced technical difficultiesduring prime time viewing, forcing angry paying customers to switch to illegal sources to complete their viewing parties. Other countries also reported streaming problems in relation to viewing the HBO show.