As expected, the new season premiere of Game of Thrones has generated quite a bit of activity on various BitTorrent sites.
Hundreds and thousands of downloaders went out to grab a copy of the show, breaking the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm ever in the process.
A few hours after the first torrent of the show was uploaded the OpenBitTorrent tracker reported that 163,088 people where sharing one single torrent. 110,303 were sharing a complete copy of that particular torrent while 52,786 were still downloading.
These are mind boggling numbers that we’ve never seen before.
Previously the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm belonged to the season premiere of the TV-show “Heroes” with 144,663 peers.
Counting all the different releases it’s estimated that the latest Game of Thrones episode has been downloaded over a million times already. Considering the above there is little doubt that Game of Thrones will once again be crowned the most downloaded TV-show of the year.
So who are these people, and why are they pirating Game of Thrones?
One of the reasons cited for the popularity among pirates is the international delay in airing. Outside the U.S. fans of the show sometimes have to wait a while before they can see the latest episode. HBO is trying to close these release gaps as best it can, but for some fans a few hours is already too much.
Delays are just part of the problem though. The fact that the show is only available to those who pay for an HBO subscription doesn’t help either. This explains why many people from the U.S. prefer to use BitTorrent.
To get an indication of where these Game of Thrones fans can be found we took a closer look at their download locations.
The U.S. comes out on top, followed by the UK and Australia. The number three spot for Australia is impressive and with a population of just over 22 million people it has the highest piracy rate. Looking at other cities we see that most downloads come from London, before Paris and Sydney.
But according to HBO, piracy isn’t killing the show, quite the contrary.
While HBO would prefer it if everyone paid for Game of Thrones, their programming president Michael Lombardo doesn’t fear piracy. He sees it as a compliment and doesn’t believe it negatively impacts DVD-sales.
It’s a win-win apparently.