Game of Thrones Sparks Pirate Feeding Frenzy

Game of Thrones, the fantastically popular fantasy TV series about death, betrayal, and an imminent invasion of living dead set to destroy the known world, is understandably popular.

So what happens when you have armies of fans drooling to watch the first episode of a hugely anticipated show, but you make it difficult or prohibitively expensive for many to watch legally? They watch it illegally, of course!


In the first 12 hours of the show’s premier, it was downloaded from BitTorrent sites an estimated 1 million times. This figure does not include pirating via streaming or direct downloads.

Interestingly, Australians were the worst offenders (9.7%), followed by India, the US (8.5%) and the UK (6.9%). As TorrentFreak notes, “this data is skewed due to time differences, as our sample of 10,000 downloaders was taken throughout a 12 hour period.”

Commenting on why they were “living up to [their] reputation as a bunch of loose animals who don’t give a shit about things like “laws,” Vincent Varny of PagesDigital said “it may simply be that Australians really, really don’t want to pay for Foxtel.”

Foxtel is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul also responsible the Unites States’ right-wing Fox News Channel.

These figures, while impressive, fall short of last year’s record-breaking 1.5 million BitTorrent downloads of the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale within 8 hours of it first showing. The series itself also smashed records with an estimated 14.4 million downloads via BitTorrent.

Part of the reason for this lower figure, however, might be that HBO (the makers and sole legal distributors of the show in the US) allowed non-subscribers watch a full weekend’s worth of premium television for free over the weekend. This is likely to have substantially reduced the number of people pirating the show.

It is true that on-demand streaming services such as HBO Now (US, $14.00 per month), Sky NOW TV (UK, £9.99 per month), and Foxtel Go (Australia, $30 AUD for first 2 months, then $20 per month) make watching Game of Thrones legally a cheaper proposition than it used to be (at least for users in countries that offer such services).

For those who prefer to pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other streaming service (many of which offer better content in general than official GoT outlets), however, this means paying for an additional service which you might not otherwise want or need. Readers in countries where Game of Thrones is not available legally, but who wish to pay for the show, can check out Peter’s article, Watch Game of Thrones Season 6 Online.

Interestingly, almost half the BitTorrent downloaders opted to watch HD versions (720p and 1080p) of the show, bandwidth limits be damned! Roll on Season 6 Episode 2, which first airs on Sunday 1 May at 21:00 EST (Monday 02:00 GMT, 11:00 AEST).

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

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