‘Game of Thrones’ Breaks All-Time TV Piracy Record

game of thrones

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has hit a new high — or low, if you prefer — on the piracy meter with its latest episode: It has been downloaded more than 2.2 million times worldwide in less than 12 hours since airing on TV.

The first pirated copies of episode five of the current season of HBO’s popular fantasy epic showed up on file-sharing sites shortly after its initial U.S. broadcast 9-10 p.m. ET Sunday, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. The 2.2 million individual Internet addresses tracked by the firm were recorded as of 10 a.m. ET Monday.

[UPDATE, May 12, 7:30 PT: Downloads of the “Game of Thrones” episode reached 3.22 million in the 24-hour period after it hit piracy sites, according to Excipio.]

“Game of Thrones” — a perennial leader in piracy — fell victim to an early leak of episodes 1-4 of season 5 ripped from a pre-release screener nearly a full day before the April 12 premiere. So the popularity of episode five indicates pirates who were sated from that earlier leak turned out en masse to peer-to-peer sites to grab the latest segment.

The new piracy record for “GoT” comes about a month after HBO launched HBO Now with Apple and Cablevision, a $15-per-month broadband-only service that doesn’t require a pay-TV subscription. HBO Now is available only in the U.S. for now — but the fact that America remains the No. 1 country for “Game of Thrones” piracy shows that even an over-the-top Internet offering won’t necessarily put a damper on digital pilfering.

“Thrones” previously set the one-day piracy record with its season four premiere, which registered 1.86 million in the first 24 hours after air. For HBO — and other TV networks as well as movie studios — piracy has been intractable and is clearly something they wish would go away. Still, industryites have tried to see the silver lining, viewing piracy as building buzz to potentially garner legitimate audiences: Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes, for one, famously quipped two years ago that piracy was “better than an Emmy” in generating awareness.

[UPDATE: The top five countries for piracy of the latest “GoT” episode in the 24-hour period after initially hitting pirate sites were: the U.S. (273,468 downloads); the U.K. (202,482); Brazil (196,853); Australia (176,207); and France (173,213), per Excipio.]

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  1. Alex says:

    The whole idea behind hbo go was to get rid of pirating by offering a platform that is even better than pirating. But, then they made it for only apple users (which, im assuming aren’t the majority of the people who were pirating in the first place… just sayin) and they make it US only.

    If the ability to watch it legally goes worldwide without some weird apple signup crap, then I would expect the piracy to go down, or at least the pirates to be more willing to pay and torrent. (nice to have those files for easy off internet access, especially when you’ve already payed for them anyway)

  2. What the studio doesn’t say is that they’re probably making it up on the merchandising … It’s more unfair to the actors/writers/etc. that have attachments by sale. Also, I’m sure it’ll be bought alot of the ‘pirates’ when it comes out in a season 5 collection.

  3. Nanny Mo says:

    I think it’s always a matter of price. I think that most people will pay a fair price for something and that most people don’t like to steal. If HBO GO were $5 a month, everyone (most people) would buy it. But if it’s $14 a month and Netflix is $14 a month and then you want to add other channels, suddenly you’re back to Cable bills. Also all these dumb markets with the “Clouds” are thinking, hey, don’t buy Avid Media Composer or Photoshop once, people will pay for it for the rest of their lives if we change them $30 a month, what is $30 a month? A season Disney pass is only $15 a month! Well, you add all these “monthly” fees up and you never own anything and your cost of living goes straight up — thus, people steal. All these monthly charges are as bad as student loan payments, they never go away. The desire to watch the show is high, the price is high, thus there is a black market. I strongly believe that if the price were lower, the companies would make way more money via mass.

  4. Skeptic says:

    Excipio only tracks P2P networks, so this estimate is without a doubt wildly inaccurate. HBO might do its best to squash streaming sites, but it certainly doesn’t catch them all. A more accurate statement would classify 2.2 million downloads on “regular” P2P sites.

  5. Theon Great Joy says:

    I was wondering why my Netflix stock sky-rocketed today!

  6. Or perhaps it shows that there are at least 2.2 million non-cable customers who don’t / won’t use Apple or Cablevision and are highly motivated see GoT.

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