The achievement comes as no surprise since the show has broken two piracy records in a few weeks, and the high number of unauthorized downloads has been widely covered in the press.
Even before the third season started there was already a lot of talk about Game of Thrones piracy. Interestingly, many of the people connected to the show saw it as a compliment rather than a major threat that needs to be dealt with.
The most outspoken position was taken by David Petrarca, the show’s director, who noted that unauthorized downloads actually do more good than harm. According to the director, pirates are partly responsible for the “cultural buzz” the show needs to thrive and survive.
After the season got underway some critical notes also appeared. The Ambassador of the United States of America to Australia recently complained about the “plain theft” being carried out by Australians.
This was countered by many self-confessed pirates including Timo Vuorensola, director of the Disney movie Iron Sky. The Finnish director told HBO that their legal service “sucks” and promised to download the show from The Pirate Bay instead.
The end result is that the most shared episode of Game of Thrones, the season opening, was downloaded by 5.2 million people all over the world. This dazzling statistic represents a 25 percent increase compared to last year and three times the amount achieved by several of the TV shows further down the top 10.
The increase in viewers wasn’t limited to the pirated channels though. HBO also saw ratings for Game of Thrones increase by roughly a quarter, driving many new customers to their paid subscriptions.
Whether the number of legal viewers would be higher or lower without piracy is hard to measure, but it could go both ways.
Looking at the full list we see that it contains many household names that have done well over the years, such as The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, which are listed in second and third place respectively.
There are also some notable newcomers. In fact, three shows in the list of most pirated shows just completed their first season – Hannibal, Vikings and Arrow. All three achieved between one and two million downloads per episode.
Below we have compiled a list of the most downloaded TV-shows worldwide (estimates per single episode) for the spring season from March up until June 2013, together with the viewer average for TV in the US. The data is collected by TorrentFreak from several sources, including download statistics reported by public BitTorrent trackers.
It is worth nothing that online streaming and cyberlocker downloads are not included since these can’t be measured accurately. The full piracy numbers will therefore be significantly higher.
|rank||show||est. downloads||US TV viewers|
|1||Game of Thrones||5,200,000||5,500,000|
|2||The Big Bang Theory||2,900,000||20,000,000|
|3||How I Met Your Mother||2,850,000||10,510,000|
|4||The Walking Dead||2,700,000||12,420,000|
|8||The Vampire Diaries||1,800,000||3,180,000|