Game Of Thrones Finale Sets New Piracy Record

Posted: Jun 17 2014, 9:12am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 17 2014, 9:15am CDT, in News | Latest TV News

Game Of Thrones Finale Sets New Piracy Record

The season finale of Game Of Thrones may have contained one or two surprises – but the piracy data certainly doesn’t. Yup, once again the show has broken all records for illegal viewing, clocking up more than 1.5 million downloads during the first 12 hours.

The news is unlikely to bother program maker HBO all that much: famously, Jeff Bewkes of parent company Time Warner described Game of Thrones’ status as the most pirated show of 2012 as “better than an Emmy”. But it will be grist to the mill of other content owners concerned over piracy.

According to TorrentFreak, which compiled the figures, another six million people are expected to download The Children over the coming days, raising the number above the current official viewing figure of 7.1 million. The episode also created the largest BitTorrent swarm, or number of people sharing the same file simultaneously – over a quarter of a million at one point.

In terms of regions, the main piracy markets for the show were Australia – nearly always at the top of such lists – followed by the US, the UK and Canada. These are all countries where the show is legally available, lending weight to studios’ claims that pirates aren’t doing it for want of an alternative.

Cost, though, is an issue. In Australia, the high streaming figures are being largely blamed on an exclusive deal with Foxtel, which has meant that fans have had to pay $35 per month for access to series 4. Previous series had been available far more cheaply through iTunes, Quickflix and Google Play.

And timeliness seems to be almost as much of a problem. Now the show’s aired, it will be available through Google Play for just $29 for the series; but it seems many simply can’t wait.

A survey late last year into piracy in Australia revealed that the delayed availability of TV shows and movies was the main motivation for pirates, with 32 percent giving it as their primary reason. This matters all the more in the case of ‘water-cooler’ TV such as Game of Thrones.

Indeed, there’s even anecdotal evidence that at least some of those that did have the appropriate Foxtel subscriptions pirated the show anyway: visitors to forums complain that it aired four hours later in Australia than in the US, leaving them vulnerable to spoilers.

The Australian Home Entertainment Distributors’ Association (AHEDA) has this week announced that movies will from now on generally appear in Australian cinemas within 90 days of release, rather than the current 120 days, in an effort to limit piracy. But if viewers aren’t prepared to wait a few hours for a TV show, this change may not make all that much difference.

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