Game of Thrones opener pirated 90m times in three days

Game of Thrones pirates from the Iron Isles

In just three days the season six premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones has been pirated a reported 90m times, underlining the immense popularity of the fantasy show and that many consumers are still relying upon illicit measures to get their fix.

Piracy analysis company MUSO recorded the downloads and streams of Game of Thrones performed across all the most popular piracy platforms, with it racking up 91.8m views. While this doesn’t necessarily mean 90m consumers accessed the show illicitly, it does underline that HBO has a way to go to monetise fans of its content across the world.

Streaming was the favoured method to view the show at 78m, followed by torrents at 8.3m, while downloads from other sources totalled 5m. Private torrents accounted for an extra half a million views.

The USA was the main viewer, racking in 15m views, despite the availability of HBO and streaming service HBO Go in the broadcaster’s home market. In a country of 323m people the vast number of people consuming the media is staggering.

The UK clocked in second at 6.2m, the show was aired at 2am on Monday in parallel with the HBO broadcast on Sky Atlantic, a move that theoretically should have dampened piracy. Germany followed at 4.8m, India at 4.3m, Indonesia 4.2m, Philippines 4m, Canada 3m, France 2m and Turkey 2m.

Andy Chatterley, chief executive and co-founder at MUSO, said: "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. What we're seeing here isn't just P2P torrent downloads but unauthorised streams and every type of piracy around the premiere. This is the total audience picture, which is usually unreported.

Somewhat on the positive side, Chatterley added: “Audience figures have always been a critical measure for studios and TV execs to assess the health of shows. The fact that there's been over 90m streams and downloads of the Game of Thrones season seven premiere outside of the official channels in the first three days since airing, not only shows just how popular this show is, but the massive opportunity to engage people and bring them back to legitimate mediums.

“Of course, Game of Thrones’ growing popularity over the seasons has been no secret, but the numbers here show a much more complete picture, which is often missing from audience figures and is likely to be far bigger than anyone anticipated. For anyone measuring an audience, it’s always worth bearing in mind that there may be a whole fan base out there that’s just being ignored. By looking at piracy, you’ll reveal a more complete view of audience, which can inform better decisions."

John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

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