Who’s Pirating Game of Thrones, And Why?

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With over 3 million downloads per episode, the HBO hit series Game of Thrones is without doubt the most pirated TV-show of the season. Data gathered by TorrentFreak shows that most of the pirates come from Australia, while London tops the list of pirate cities. But why have these people turned to BitTorrent?

thronesIn a few hours a new episode of Game of Thrones will appear on BitTorrent, and a few days later between 3 and 4 million people will download this unofficial release.

Statistics gathered by TorrentFreak reveal that more people are downloading the show compared to last year, when it came in as the second most downloaded TV-show of 2011. The number of weekly downloads worldwide is about equal to the estimated viewers on HBO in the U.S., but why?

One of the prime reasons for the popularity among pirates is the international delay in airing. In Australia, for example, fans of the show have to wait a week before they can see the latest episode. So it’s hardly a surprise that some people are turning to BitTorrent instead.

And indeed, if we look at the top countries where Game of Thrones is downloaded, Australia comes out on top with 10.1% of all downloads (based on one episode).

But delays are just part of the problem. The fact that the show is only available to those who pay for an HBO subscription doesn’t help either. This explains why hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. prefer to use BitTorrent.

The same is true for Canada and the United Kingdom, placed third and fourth in the list of pirate kings. If we look at the ranking of cities, London takes the lead followed by Sydney, Melbourne and Amsterdam.

To a certain degree one could claim that HBO is to blame for Game of Throne’s success on BitTorrent. They want to keep access to the show “exclusive” and even Netflix wasn’t able to buy the rights no matter what they offered.

Whether this is the best decision in terms of revenue is hard to tell, but it’s clear that HBO prefers more exclusiveness over less piracy. And who knows, maybe they even sell HBO subscriptions to BitTorrent downloaders in the long run.

The reasons above are not exhaustive of course, there are many more reasons why people turn to BitTorrent. For some it’s become a matter of habit that will be hard to break, no matter where they live and how good the legal alternative is.

If there are any Game of Thrones pirates reading this, let us know what drives you in the comments.

Spring 2012
# Country % City %
1 Australia 10.1% London 3.0%
2 United States 9.7% Sydney 3.0%
3 Canada 7.7% Melbourne 2.9%
4 United Kingdom 7.6% Amsterdam 2.2%
5 The Netherlands 4.4% Athens 2.2%
6 Norway 3.7% Perth 1.8%
7 Spain 3.2% Istanbul 1.6%
8 Poland 3.0% Brisbane 1.5%
9 Greece 2.8% Budapest 1.3%
10 Philippines 2.7% Madrid 1.3%

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