Fans are still waiting to see who will end up sitting on the Iron Throne once the dust settles, but Game of Thrones is already well on its way to reclaiming one of its most notorious titles: The most pirated television show of the year.
The Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, which debuted on HBO on Sunday, was pirated 54 million times in its first 24 hours, according to a report from digital-piracy tracking firm Muso. As a point of comparison, only 17 million people watched the Game of Thrones season premiere legally, according to figures released by Nielsen. That means that pirated views dwarfed official ones three-to-one, although the official broadcasts were still popular enough to make Game of Thrones‘ season 8 launch the biggest one-day event in HBO history.
About 76.6% of pirates watched Game of Thrones on unlicensed streams, while web-based downloads accounted for another 12.2%. Torrents from sites like The Pirate Bay and private trackers made up just over 10% of the final total.
Geographically, India was the biggest hub of illicit Game of Thrones watching, with 9.5 million views, followed by China with 5.2 million. Observers note that Game of Thrones is hard to find in India and was censored in China, which could have helped to promote piracy. On the other hand, the United States came in third on the list with almost 4 million illegal Game of Thrones views, so it seems that people don’t particularly want to pay for HBO if they can help it, either.
Widespread piracy is nothing new for Game of Thrones. HBO’s fantasy drama has topped lists of the most-pirated shows on TV for years. The Game of Thrones season 7 finale, which aired in 2017, was pirated 120 million times in its first 72 hours, according to Muso. Three-day piracy totals for the season 8 premiere aren’t available yet, but Muso claims that Game of Thrones was among the 25 most-pirated shows in the month leading up to the debut as fans rushed to catch up or refresh their memories before the final season started.
Game of Thrones season 8 is the final installment of HBO’s flagship series, and will finally wrap up the long-simmering conflict between Westeros’ various rulers and the undead army of White Walkers. Thankfully, if you want to see how it all ends, there are plenty of streaming options out there that will get you the latest Game of Thrones episodes as soon as they air. Even better, they won’t get you in trouble with the law.
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