As previously reported by The Inquisitr, HBO's Game of Thrones broke some viewing records with their Season 8 premiere last Sunday night. However, there are also some other records broken that HBO probably won't be so impressed with. According to new data, many more people illegally downloaded Episode 1 (titled "Winterfell") than watched it legally.
According to data, 17.4 million people legally tuned in to watch the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones. This number is expected to grow over the days after the premiere on Sunday. However, according to Forbes, 54 million people illegally downloaded Episode 1 of Game of Thrones' final season. This means that more than three times as many people watched a pirated version than via a legal avenue.
While 54 million is a shocking number for the day of the premiere episode, it is anticipated that this number will continue to grow in the days after the Season 8 premiere. After all, the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones ended up garnering more than 90 million illegal views in the three days after that premiere episode.
The top three offenders were India, China, and the U.S.
Of course, there are various reasons why people would illegally download an episode of Game of Thrones rather than watching it legitimately. As Forbes points out, the biggest offender, India, with 9.5 million views, is a country which doesn't have legally available HBO content. So, for Indian fans, illegally downloading HBO content is the only way to acquire it presently, particularly Season 8.
In addition, while China does have access to HBO via Tencent Video, the content is heavily censored. Nudity, violence, and content deemed inappropriate are removed from each episode of Game of Thrones before it airs in China, which means, as The Verge points out, vital information like the reveal of Lord Umber at Last Hearth in Episode 1 was missed thanks to content removal. So, 5.2 million viewers considered this to be a legitimate excuse to download the content via other avenues.
While India and China might have some sort of excuse to illegally download HBO content, in the U.S., where the content is freely available, albeit, at a price, many people still chose to access the content illegally. In fact, at least 4 million Americans chose to download pirated content for Episode 1 of Game of Thrones Season 8.
And, this comes in light of recent warnings from Kaspersky Lab that illegally downloaded files from Game of Thrones have the highest chance of being infected with viruses.
Season 2 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 2 on Sunday, April 21, at 9 p.m. ET.