‘Game of Thrones’ Sets Piracy Record: TorrentFreak

The premiere of the fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones didn’t just overwhelm the network's TV Everywhere app. It was also a massive magnet for pirates. 

Sunday night’s premiere set new records for digitally-pilfered versions of the episode, reported TorrentFreak, a site focused on file-sharing and privacy and copyright issues.

According to TorrentFreak, more than 1 million illegal copies were downloaded in just half a day. At its height this morning, more than 300,000 BitTorrent users were sharing the new episode,  the site said.

TorrentFreak pinned part of the piracy craze on HBO Go’s temporary outage Sunday night, noting that it “probably motivated some to look for unauthorized copies, which were widely available through dozens of torrent sites soon after the episode finished. Unlike HBO Go, downloads via BitTorrent actually benefit from the increased interest, which usually means that downloads finish faster.”

The season three finale of Game of Thrones was the most-pirated show of 2013, with an estimated 5.9 million downloads, according to TorrentFreak.

“[W]ith today’s numbers it is well on its way to securing the title for another year,” the site added.

A TorrentFreak sample of 18,333 IP addresses showed that Australia (11.6%) represented the country that was sharing the season four episode the most, followed by the U.S. (9.3%), the U.K. (5.8%), and Canada (5.2%).

On the legit end of the distribution spectrum, the episode pulled in a Nielsen overnight rating of 6.6 million viewers for the 9 p.m. showing, a 52% boost from the season three premiere and a 23% rise compared to the season three finale.