Since the release of the first episode back in 2011, Game of Thrones has conquered the hearts of many people.
Unfortunately for HBO, not all of these fans have enjoyed the series through legal channels.
While there have already been some numbers floating around, revealing that millions of people turned to pirate sites to watch the show, it wasn’t really clear what the broader impact was on the total piracy ecosystem.
There was some anecdotal evidence, with torrent site operators reporting massive boosts in traffic, but new data from MUSO now places the Game of Thrones numbers in a broader context.
When we reviewed global pirate site traffic data provided by MUSO this week, we noticed what at first appeared to be an unusual uptick. After more than a year of slowly declining visitor numbers, there was a sudden increase in April 2019, as can be seen below.
Looking more closely, it turned out that this uptick was mostly related to video content. Other categories, including music piracy, were actually going down. While this seemed odd, the date of the sudden April spike provided a very likely explanation.
On April 14, the day of the Game of Thrones season premiere, the number of pirate site visits jumped drastically, up by roughly 45 million compared to a week earlier. This pattern returned with each subsequent episode, with the record being set after the third episode.
Overall, Game of Thrones appears to account for an initial uptick of roughly 8% in global traffic to pirate sites. That’s immense, to say the least. As mentioned before, this traffic boost wasn’t visible on other sites, such as stream-rippers, which are related to music piracy.
Sites such as The Pirate Bay did notice a sharp increase in traffic though, as the graph below shows.
TorrentFreak spoke to Phil Taylor, an analyst at MUSO, who supports our findings and observed the Game of Thrones boost as well.
“The demand for piracy of Game of Thrones is unprecedented. The demand for GOT was so high that it visibly increased traffic for domains such as thepiratebay.org,” Taylor tells us.
“We will get a better view of overall traffic and trends for 2019 as the year progresses, however, the impact of Game of Thrones on overall traffic in April and May of 2019 is clear,” he adds.
Seeing the visible impact of a single title on overall yearly piracy data is rather unique. At TorrentFreak, we certainly haven’t seen it before. And now that Game of Thrones has come to an end, it’s doubtful we will again.