Game of Thrones

Screengrab via Game of Thrones/YouTube

The ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere was pirated 90 million times

Pirates still love watching 'Game of Thrones.'


Kris Seavers

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 21, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:08 pm CDT

You know the old saying—wherever there’s popular TV, there are pirates.

The seventh season premiere of  smashed ratings records and even led to a dip in Pornhub traffic. Adding another dimension to the insights, newly released data reveals that the episode “Dragonstone” has been pirated more than 90 million times since Sunday.  

Piracy monitoring firm MUSO reported the findings, using data based on traffic to 23,000 of the most-used piracy sites, according to TorrentFreak. The data came from over 200 million devices located in more than 200 countries.

HBO isn’t letting the pirates go unnoticed. The company’s anti-piracy partner IP Echelon started sending warnings to internet service providers shortly after the new episode appeared online, hoping that the message would be passed along to torrenters. 

“We have information leading us to believe that the IP address was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorization,” the notification reads. “HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.”

HBO would have to take the internet service provider to court to identify people who actually did the pirating—which is unlikely. The company likely hopes that the warning itself will scare some into finding legal means to watch the popular show.

Game of Thrones has been breaking piracy records for years, and it looks like season 7 will continue topping charts.

Andy Chatterley, MUSO CEO and co-founder, said the results from Sunday’s premiere may come as a surprise to some industry insiders. But the “huge” numbers give an estimation of total traffic, including downloads.    

“There is no denying that these figures are huge, so they’re likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the mainstream industry, but it’s in line with the sort of scale we see across piracy sites and should be looked at objectively,” Chatterley said. “What we’re seeing here isn’t just [person to person] torrent downloads but unauthorized streams and every type of piracy around the premiere. This is the total audience picture, which is usually unreported.”

More than 70 million unauthorized viewings came from streaming portals, while over 8 million downloads came from public torrent traffic. Another 4.9 million downloads are linked to direct download sites, and over 500,000 come from private torrents.

MUSO reported that most of the pirate traffic comes from the United States, with 15.1 million unauthorized downloads and streams. The United Kingdom comes in second place with 6.2 million, followed by Germany, India, and Indonesia, with between 4 and 5 million each.

And this is just the beginning of the season.

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*First Published: Jul 21, 2017, 1:34 pm CDT