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'Thrones' Spoiler: 25% of Online Viewers Used Shared Password

A big audience turned out for the premiere of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but according to a new survey, a lot of those viewers were using “shared” passwords and many plan to drop the premium network after the series finale.

Hub Entertainment Research found that the majority of people who said they saw the season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday watched via a pay-TV set-top box, either live, on demand or recorded on a DVR.

Another 39% watched on a legitimate online service, such as HBO Go or HBO Now, a cable or satellite service website or app, or through a streaming HBO subscription provided by Amazon, Hulu or DirecTV Now.

Related: Over 17 Million Watch 'Game of Thrones' Premiere

There were 4% who said they saw the show on a pirate source, such as a Torrent site or a Kodi application.

Among those watching on an authorized source, 16% said they used a password they got from a relative living somewhere else and 9% said they used a friend’s password.

Nearly a third of younger viewers--16- to 29-year-olds--said they watched online using someone else’s password.

“HBO is justifiably proud of the record numbers the Game of Thrones premiere pulled in,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “But with online platforms making up a significant portion of viewing, that success is tempered somewhat by the fact that 1 in 4 online viewers watched from an account they don’t pay for.”

Among respondents to the Hub study who saw the premiere, 14% said they were likely to drop HBO after the series finale of Game of Thrones. Another 6% said they weren’t sure they’d keep HBO.

Related: ‘GoT’ and Masters Viewers Faced Usual Live Stream Challenges Sunday

The study found that 18% of those who watched the premiere through their own HBO account have been subscribers for three months or less. Of those who subscribed to HBO in the past three months, 60% said they signed up only to watch Game of Thrones.

“This research shows how important great content is in a ‘Peak TV’ environment”, said Jon Giegengack, a principal at Hub. “The new services from Disney and Apple will make the market even more saturated. This research is further evidence that consumers will follow must-see content, including signing up for a subscription if they need one to watch a specific show.”

Hub’s study was based on a survey of 1,602 U.S. consumers age 16 and up who watch at least one hour of TV per week. The research was conducted April 14 and 15.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.