Game of Thrones drew in 6.7 million viewers for its season 3 premiere on Sunday night, a new record for the show. Just as impressive is the one million people who illegally downloaded the premiere.
The one million downloads is a new online piracy record for a TV show, and it highlights the tremendous popularity of the Game of Thrones series.
Torrent monitoring website TorrentFreak tracked BitTorrent activity to determine the illegal virality of the Game of Thrones season 3 premiere. According to the site: “Never before has there been a torrent with so many people sharing a file at the same time, more than 160,000 simultaneous peers.”
If you are unfamiliar with Torrent networks, 160,000 simultaneous peers means there were 160,000 users sharing the file with other downloading parties. At its highest point, 163,000 people were downloading the same file at the same time.
HBO was aware that international viewers didn’t want to wait for Game of Thrones to air in their countries, and it had tried to fix the issue. In a statement released to ABC News ,the subscription-based network writes:
“In an effort to address piracy, HBO removed the window between the U.S. and international debut of ‘Game of Thrones,’ essentially launching its third season with a worldwide premiere. From initial data, we have seen the benefits of this strategy with viewership up significantly in international markets in comparison to last season, as well as a record premiere here in the U.S.”
US users led the illegal piracy downloads, and those viewers were followed by the UK and Australia.
As our own Neal Campbell reported yesterday, HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly that piracy is a “compliment of sorts” and “something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
HBO, however, said that it continues to take the issue seriously. ” ‘Game of Thrones’ is a global phenomenon and HBO uses every tool available to protect its content,” it said in a statement. “Unfortunately, with such success also comes theft. Many anti-piracy tactics have been effective and we will continue to improve those efforts so we can continue to deliver high quality, acclaimed programming to our customers.”
With Game Of Thrones renewed for a fourth season, we can probably expect to see a whole lot more piracy in the coming months and years ahead.