The Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere has been pirated at least a million times, CNN Moneyreported on Monday. HBO’s Emmy-winning fantasy epic is famous for breaking viewership records, but GoT might be about to break a record of a very different kind.
Piracy blog TorrentFreak, which tracks illegal online file-sharing through pirating websites, reported that more than 200,000 people were sharing pirated copies of the show’s latest episode, “The Red Woman,” which aired Sunday night. The torrented copies have been downloaded at least one million times so far.
Game of Thrones has long been plagued with concerns over internet piracy. It quickly became one of the world’s most pirated shows after it first aired in 2011. In fact, the episode “The Red Woman” was leaked online ahead of its scheduled air date, showing up on a Canadian website before being promptly taken down. Considering that the premium network released the episode simultaneously in 170 countries and has been so cautious about leaks that it didn’t release any screener DVDs to critics this year, the fact that the episode was still leaked symbolized the widespread issues HBO is having.
On top of this, while one million people watching pirated copies and seeding hundreds of thousands of Game of Thrones torrents of the new episode may be astounding, it isn’t even a record for the wildly popular television series, as CNN noted.
“One million pirated views is astounding for any television show, though it didn’t quite set a record. The season five premiere of Game of Thrones was downloaded 1.5 million times in the first eight hours after that episode aired a year ago. Eventually, that episode was illegally downloaded 10 million times.”
HBO has been ratcheting up its anti-piracy efforts since last year, according to CNBC News. Millions downloaded the first four episodes of the fifth season by the time HBO aired the first episode. In response, viewers of the leaked episodes reported receiving emails concerning the pirated copies. The emails were published on the social networking site Reddit. Jeff Cusson, the senior vice president of corporate communications at HBO, told CNBC at the time that this would be standard practice.
“This action is not specific to the four episodes, nor is it new. Notifications to Internet service providers that their users are illegally downloading is standard operating procedure in our digital anti-piracy efforts.”
ALSO. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ALL FOR GAME OF THRONES SEASON 6?????? pic.twitter.com/EkOVAZx01p— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) April 24, 2016
After this historic leak a year ago, HBO also ceased the practice of distributing DVDs to the current season, and sometimes the previous seasons as well, to reviewing critics. The episodes had a tendency to appear on piracy and torrenting websites 12 hours before they would premiere on television. Despite anti-piracy efforts on their part, it seems that they have been able to do little to curb illegal downloading of what is arguably the world’s most popular show.
Game of Thrones is the most pirated television show of all time, according to TorrentFreak, with an average of several million downloads per episode. Although it was topped by Dexter for its first season in 2011, Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show of every single year since then, and it looks like 2016 will be no different.
Acccording to Entertainment Weekly, the second trailer for Game of Thrones’ sixth season garnered 30 million views in less than 24 hours after its release. Including streaming, repeats, and DVR playback, each episode averages 20.2 million views.
Pirating websites like the Pirate Bay use a peer-to-peer file-sharing among users of programs like BitTorrent, which makes finding the original pirate difficult.
HBO has not yet released official viewership ratings for the Season 6 premiere. A spokesman for HBO declined to comment.
[Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe]