Game of Thrones sets viewing records, for both legal and illegal streams and downloads
Image/Photo Credit: HBO
The premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones is a television event that one seldom witnesses, and as expected, there has been a huge piracy surge.
According to piracy news website TorrentFreak, the first episode of the final season has indeed caused a piracy frenzy on torrent sites, but no previous records have been broken.
This isn't because the final season premiere wasn't popular - the first episode has broken rating records according to HBO - but mainly because torrenting is no longer the most popular piracy method. The advent of streaming sites, which makes watching pirated content easier, and the increased scrutiny on torrenting by authorities, has largely been responsible for the declining popularity of torrenting.
According to data from piracy monitoring firm MUSO, the season premiere has been pirated more than 54 million times in the first 24 hours, with 76.6% of pirates choosing to stream the show, as opposed to downloading it. And even among those that chose to download, more than half went for a web download. Overall, torrents only accounted for 11.3% of all pirated views.
As a comparison, official viewing figures from HBO stands at 17.4 million.
Analysing one particularly active torrent, TorrentFreak found more than 120,000 people actively trying to download it at one time. While that sounds "impressive", it is still quite a distance from the actual torrenting record set by the season 5 finale of more than 250,000 simultaneous active downloaders. Again, the changing behaviour of pirates may have more to do with this "drop" in torrent piracy, than an actual drop in piracy (which may still have occurred thanks largely to the increasing availability of legal watching options).
As for piracy by country, India and China led the way this time, far ahead of the USA where legal options are aplenty (and those legal viewing options have not been censored). Australia, despite its small population, managed to grab the 10th spot, while there are some surprising entries in the top 10 including Nigeria (5th), Iran (6th) and Kenya (7th).
The series finale of Game of Thrones, set to air on May 19, is expected to be even more popular.