“Game of Thrones” was the TV show illegally downloaded most frequently between Feb. 5 and April 6 of this year, despite the fact that the show's new season doesn't debut until Sunday. Torrent files of the popular HBO show were downloaded more than 7 million times over two months, according to numbers provided to the Hollywood Reporter by the piracy tracking company Irdeto.
That's a 45 percent jump from the 4.9 million downloads Irdeto found over the same timeframe in 2014. Most pirates stole “Game of Thrones” from outside the United States, with Brazil and France coming in first and second, respectively, on the list. The U.S. ranked as the third most popular country for illegal “Game of Thrones” downloads.
“Game of Thrones” has been one of the most heavily downloaded shows since it premiered on HBO on April 17, 2011. Millions of people who don't subscribe to the channel have downloaded it, with season premieres and finales regularly attracting hundreds of thousands of illegal viewers.
HBO has sought to correct this by increasing the number of ways for fans to watch. The upcoming season will mark the first time fans will be able to watch via HBO Now, the cable-free subscription service that launched on Apple TV and iOS devices this week.
“It's often said that piracy is good marketing, but as piracy continues to skyrocket, the mindset is shifting toward offering a compelling legal alternative to start converting pirates into paying customers,” said Irdeto vice president Rory O'Connor, as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter. “Our piracy data indicates 'Game of Thrones' continues to be wildly popular in countries like Brazil and France, where a service like HBO Now could be a good way to recapture some revenue.”