Considering it was the most pirated show of 2012, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the new season premiere of Game of Thrones was downloaded quite a bit this weekend.
But the sheer volume it pretty staggering – in fact, it broke records.
TorrentFreak has the numbers: In just a few hours after the first torrent of the show was uploaded, 163,088 people were sharing the single torrent. That broke down to 110,303 actively sharing and 52,786 still downloading.
That’s a record in the world of BitTorrent tracking – the largest previous swarm belonging to a season premiere of Heroes with 144,663 peers.
If you take into account all of the torrents, TorrentFreak reports that estimates put the total number of Game of Thrones season 3 premiere downloads at over a million. That’s a performance that even a hard-to-satisfy Lannister patriarch can be proud of.
If you break down the numbers, the majority of sharers came from the United States (12.9%), barely topping the U.K., who took 11.5% of the pie. Australia came in third with 9,9% of the total downloaders.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons that so many people decided to torrent the show. It has a huge following, first and foremost. HBO’s international release delays don’t help either. Plus, there’s a large contingent in the U.S. (and elsewhere) that simply don’t subscribe to HBO and can’t get HBO GO because they don’t have cable. Many of these people would pay for a standalone HBO streaming service, but HBO is yet to offer that outside a few Scandinavian countries (although the prospects have gotten a bit better as of late).
But according to one HBO exec, this piracy is more of a compliment and less of a problem.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” HBO programming head Michael Lombardo recently told EW. “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”