The “Game of Thrones” season three premiere reached record highs in the ratings for HBO, and, as the most pirated television show, it now adds another piracy record to its collection. More than 160,000 BitTorrent users were simultaneously sharing one torrent of the season three premiere episode of “Game of Thrones,” “Valar Dohaeris.”
For one “Game of Thrones” torrent, there were 110,303 seeders, who already completed the download and were sharing the file, and 52,786 leechers, BitTorrent users downloading the torrent and sharing a portion of the completed download, TorrentFreak reports. The combined activity, called a swarm, is a new record for any single torrent.
The “Valar Dohaeris” torrent attracted more than 163,000 BitTorrent users and beat the previous record for swarm activity held by the season premiere of “Heroes,” TorrentFreak notes. The “Heroes” torrent had more than 144,000 BitTorrent users simultaneously sharing the file.
For “Game of Thrones,” this level of piracy has become expected. The season two season finale, “Valar Morghulis,” had moer than 4 million downloads, and TorrentFreak estimates that close to 1 million BitTorrent users have already downloaded the season three premiere of “Game of Thrones.”
“Valar Dohaeris” earned 4.4 million viewers for HBO. Including replays and repeat viewings, 6.7 million tuned in to “Game of Thrones” on Sunday.
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One of the reasons for the rampant piracy of “Game of Thrones” is its distribution. Season three premiered in the United States, while other countries will have to wait to legally watch “Valar Dohaeris.” The UK only has to wait a day for the series to premiere on Sky Atlantic, but that did not stop UK users for being the second largest group of downloaders for “Game of Thrones.” BitTorrent users from the United States were No. 1 among all countries downloading the “Valar Dohaeris” torrent, The Wrap notes.
The delay is not as bad as the wait for “Downton Abbey,” as American fans of the show have to wait months after the season has already premiered in the UK, and, in an interview with Forbes, HBO’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, Jeff Cusson, said the season three premiere of “Game of Thrones” would be available in 176 territories within a week of the U.S. premiere.
HBO’s subscription model is another piece of the piracy puzzle, but even offering HBO Go to nonsubscribers would not be enough to reduce the record piracy of “Game of Thrones.” With plenty of torrents and thousands of downloads, “Game of Thrones” is well on its way to repeat as the most pirated television show for 2013. Michael Lombard, HBO programming president, while not pleased with the piracy, sees the activity as a “compliment” of sorts, noting the cultural buzz that surrounds the show and the record-breaking DVD sales of the second season.