Game of Thrones: the once and future king of BitTorrent

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

It's certainly not news that Game of Thrones is popular with the BitTorrent community.

(Credit: HBO)

Back in April, when the most recent season kicked off, we saw the premiere episode set its own "swarm record" for total number of seeders and leechers.

This sparked all manner of debate about why people seemed to be downloading Game of Thrones illegally en masse, with even the US ambassador to Australia making an impassioned plea for Aussies to stop stealing.

Well, season 3 is now over, and TorrentFreak has revealed some interesting stats about the show.

First, the season finale actually broke the swarm record set by the season premiere, clocking up 171,572 swarm members compared to the 163,088 of the first episode of the season.

Secondly, GoT is now officially the "most-pirated" show of the US "spring season" of TV. The most-shared episode — the season opener — was downloaded by 5.2 million people worldwide.

This is a 25 per cent increase on last year's stats. For perspective, the second most popular show in TorrentFreak's list is The Big Bang Theory, which managed just 2.9 million downloads.

Why is Game of Thrones so popular to pirate? It's hard to say; many have criticised the difficulty of obtaining it legally outside of HBO-serviced countries, or the problems of internet spoilers if local broadcasters are airing shows later than the US.

Whatever the reason, we can't see this behaviour slowing down, and we expect to see episode one of season four once again set new records in the BitTorrent arena.

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JenniferC1 posted a comment   

It's not about the time, but about the money!

Most shows will release earlier episodes so you can watch them streaming with a subscription to Hulu or Netflix or AmazonPrime or whathaveyou. But here we are, done with season three, and season one episodes are still $2.99 PER EPISODE. That's outrageous. I hope HBO gets burned by this; they're part of what's wrong with the entertainment industry.


JenniferC1 posted a reply   

I may as well add that unfortunately, it seems that's unlikely to happen. They must still be making enough money off of the sales to cover for those scores who download it illegally, or they'd find a new business model.

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