Was The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere Really Pirated A Whopping 90M Times?

Image courtesy of HBO

It is not news that people have been illegally watching the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones — by this point, we pretty much expect that one of the most-pirated shows on TV will be, well, pirated. But one report claims that the first episode of this final season has been pirated a whopping 90 million times since it aired last Sunday.

All eyes on Westeros

Sure, we all wanted to find out what Daenerys’ dragons have been up to, who would have their [insert body part] chopped off, and whether or not Jon Snow has gotten a new hairstyle.

But while the first episode has been watched through official channels about 16 million times so far — the most views HBO has racked up for a premiere ever — piracy analysis company MUSO says the premiere was viewed illegally 90 million times, reports Business Insider.

That includes illegal streaming, downloads, and torrenting.

According to the report, the episode was streamed illegally 77.9 million times, torrented from public trackers 8.3 million times, torrented from private trackers 500,000 times, and directly downloaded 4.9 million times.

The bulk of the illegal views were right here in the U.S. with 15.1 million, with the UK adding in another 6.2 million. Other countries in the top 5 include Germany with 4.9 million illegal views, India at 4.3 million, and Indonesia pulling in 4.3 million.

So, uh, that’s a lot of views

If this sounds like a lot, you're not alone. In comparison, TorrentFreak noted last year that the highest number of people actively sharing an episode across several torrents was 350,000 at its peak, when the season finale came online. Of course, that’s just torrenting, and not direct downloads or streaming.

To that end, MUSO says the staggering 90 million figure isn’t just the result of P2P torrent downloads, but unauthorized streams and “every type of piracy.”

“This is the total audience picture, which is usually unreported,” MUSO cofounder Andy Chatterley said in a statement, while acknowledging that these are some hefty numbers.

“There is no denying that these figures are huge, so they’re likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the mainstream industry, but it’s in line with the sort of scale we see across piracy sites and should be looked at objectively,” he said.

HBO isn’t just sitting back

While this is sort of good news for HBO, in a way — it's a lot of eyeballs, after all — the company is prepared to fight the rising tide of piracy.

Last year, HBO launched a new anti-piracy effort, issuing thousands of copyright infringement warnings to ISPs, urging them to take action against alleged pirates.

Under the existing “six strikes” system, those ISPs are then supposed to forward those warnings to the infringing customers on their service. Under the existing “six strikes” system, those ISPs are then supposed to forward those warnings to the infringing customers on their service. Not all do, however.

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It’s doing the same this time around, TorrentFreak reports: Soon after the episode premiered, HBO’s partner IP Echelon began firing off warnings targeted at pirates, including IP addresses of alleged BitTorrent users. HBO’s goal is to get ISPs to alert their subscriber.

“We have information leading us to believe that the IP address xx.xxx.xxx.xx was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorization,” the notification reads. “HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.”

When reached for comment on actions it’s taking this year against piracy, an HBO spokesperson did not offer any details on the company’s efforts.

“HBO aggressively protects its programming, but we find it counterproductive to publicly discuss specific anti-theft tactics,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Consumerist.

The company declined to comment on the report’s figure of 90 million pirated views.

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