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Game of Thrones season 6 premiere sees record piracy after streaming struggles

Months after leaving Game of Thrones fans with tortuous (not to mention torturous) cliffhangers, HBO finally aired the season six premiere Sunday. For many fans, watching the episode was the thrilling experience they’d been dreaming of, but for others, it left them as enraged as Cersei Lannister. Viewers weren’t the only ones with cause for concern, though — HBO execs were given reason to be frustrated as well.

Not shockingly, fan frustration was made visible on Twitter Sunday night. Some viewers reported outages on HBO Now and HBO Go, plus a loss of power (though that was unrelated to HBO).  The streaming outages were highlighted by downdetector.com, which reported a peak of over 3,220 social media complaints for HBO Go at one point. Many users described not even being able to login to the services, according to TVPredictions.com.

The annoyance was palpable. One user sarcastically tweeted that it was no big deal to be missing out after waiting months for the show to return. Although he didn’t reveal what sort of outage he faced, he certainly wasn’t alone in his sentiment.

Disappointing as it may have been for affected users, HBO Go and HBO Now’s technical difficulties aren’t altogether shocking. Fans clearly wanted to see Snow (or at least his corpse — RIP) and the gang return, so naturally, the premium network’s authenticated service and standalone streamer were especially busy. In fact, Variety cites Apptopia data finding that Sunday’s premiere was HBO Now’s busiest day yet, and an HBO spokesperson revealed that traffic to both HBO Go and HBO Now was “unprecedented.”

“There were a small number of HBO NOW subscribers receiving an error message,” said the spokesperson in a statement. “The problem was quickly recognized and resolved.”

Meanwhile, the premium network had another issue to worry about as well: piracy. Even though there are plenty of ways to watch GoT legally and HBO offered its programming for free to cable subscribers this weekend, there was a flurry of illegal downloads. Over a million people downloaded the premiere within half a day via BitTorrent, according to TorrentFreak.

While the issues may have put a damper on the season six premiere for some, the silver lining remains: Game of Thrones is back, and its fandom is as intense as ever.