News

Game of Thrones Season 4 finale breaks piracy record

piracy

For the third time this year, Game of Thrones Season 4 has set a new piracy record for the largest torrent swarm ever.

Torrent Freak has reported that late Sunday night 254,114 people were sharing a single copy of “The Children” at the same time. 190,701 people were sharing a complete copy of the torrent, while 63,413 were still downloading it. This beats out the previous record of 207,054 by quite a large margin, set earlier in the season by the fifth episode.

Of course, these are only numbers for a single torrent, and as seen below, there were multiple copies that garnered quite a bit of interest. Roughly 1.5 million people downloaded the episode within the first 12 hours of its availability.

Torrent Freak expects the episode will end the week at around 7.5 million download, which makes it a safe bet to be the most pirated episode of television this year.

These swarms could be used as a measure relative to the initial viewership numbers from HBO: the amount of people waiting to download and watch the episode as soon as possible.

When compared to last year, the Season 4 finale saw a 48% increase in initial downloads over the Season 3 finale’s 171,572 person swarm. And if Torrent Freak’s prediction of 7.5 million overall downloads holds true, it would mark a 27% increase in total downloads over 5.9 million from the Season 3 finale.

Put these numbers together with the previously reported 32% increase in television viewership for the Season 4 finale, and it becomes even clearer that Game of Thrones’ audience has dramatically increased over the past year, whether they come across the episodes legally, or not.

48 Comments

  • That little hedonistic pic puts a smile on my face:)
    I know of two people that torrent GoT, I couldn’t though, would feel like stealing, but as for the pleasure of GoT hedonism, it’s the 21st century, get with the program all you living with ancient religious sexual morals. My grandmother was a pastor, God bless her, and she had no problem with sex of any kind. She told me by the time she was 16 she had had sex with six men and loved it, she stole my 37 year old granddaddy away from his wife and three children at the ripe mature age of 16. When I asked if she had regrets, she said no, that a girl or woman should be able to choose whomever she wants to have sex with and at whatever age. That’s feminism in the truest sense of the word.

  • Okay, serious question here. Not being a smart ass, truely. I just want to know: how can those pirating sites, which, if I understand it correctly, are allowing others to steal property, stay in business and make these types of reports without being shut down by the FCC or some such agency?

  • I think this is indicative of the connected world we live in. I dare not go on social media cause some American in my feed will spoil the episode.
    I think going forward HBO should work with it’s international partners to ensure people can view their content.
    Obviously they cannot broadcast simultaneously for time zone reasons, and due to the graphic nature of the show, it has to be broadcast at a responsible time so kiddies eyes aren’t sullied by boobies and guts.

    For Europe at least, it should be available on an On-Demand service once it’s aired in US, then broadcast at a reasonable time on TV. And similar for the rest of the world.

  • TOIVA,

    While he has helped his cause out, it makes sense that Stannis wouldn’t have him standing next to him and his other keys advisers, given that he’s a pirate and all. We’ll probably see him again next season, transporting Davos to White Harbor

  • Se Maester,

    As an Unsullied, I didn’t dare look behind the veil of spoiler tags, but all I meant was it’d be a curious sight. For both Mance and Jon. And he surely is an amusing character to watch.

    Fun aside, I wouldn’t even be surprised if our favourite pirate stayed with the fleet that brought Stannis’ army north. Which would of course prevent us from seeing him at Castle Black.

  • simple enough:
    it has not aired yet in our country
    we want to see it as soon as possible
    hence, torrent

    is it illegal? maybe
    is it bad for the show? why would it be exactly?

  • I’m curious, are these pirated copies good quality? I haven’t done anything of the sort for a long, long time. It’s probably been since Kazaa was getting going. I remember movies I downloaded through there being mostly poor quality. Some were even shot with handhelds in theaters. It was kind of like watching Mystery Science 3000 with heads and occasionally someone walking by. I have HBO now and won’t ever consider cancelling it while GoT is running.

  • Clob,

    I was never a big torrenter and what I did torrent was years before GoT was even on the air, but yes, these days you can generally get DVD quality rips if you want, especially for popular stuff.

  • Clob,

    yes, you can find HD torrents almost immediately after TV shows air.
    it is different with movies because you have to wait for the BR release for a good quality torrent, but with TV stuff, the source is immediately digital and HD.

  • tysnow:
    That little hedonistic pic puts a smile on my face:)
    I know of two people that torrent GoT, I couldn’t though, would feel like stealing, but as for the pleasure of GoT hedonism, it’s the 21st century, get with the program all you living with ancient religious sexual morals. My grandmother was a pastor, God bless her, and she had no problem with sex of any kind. She told me by the time she was 16 she had had sex with six men and loved it, she stole my 37 year old granddaddy away from his wife and three children at the ripe mature age of 16. When I asked if she had regrets, she said no, that a girl or woman should be able to choose whomever she wants to have sex with and at whatever age. That’s feminism in the truest sense of the word.

    Dude, you are Melisandre’s real-life grandchild?

  • It would be helpful to also mention that despite these numbers, the Blu-Ray sales of GOT continue to lead the pack as well. It’s not all doom and gloom.

    And that doesn’t even START to count the coffee mugs and other branded merchandise HBO sells for GoT.

    To date, there have not been any torrents of a coffee mug or t-shirt on the internet.

  • Croat,

    NO?

    Well one simple answer would be that they were stupid and create as big of a hole in the story as the moon door!

    You have a bunch of little creatures who can throw exploding shit around? OK then what is the big menace of White walkers and other zombies? Just put 5 fucking children in the front throwing fireballs and have Hodor in the back just in case, thats it! Song of ice and fire is resolved!!!

    Another complaint is that they make this show look like a stupid video game…

  • Salladhor, Stannis, Davos, Jon, Mance, Tormund and Millesandre. The Wall smells of badass!
    I really hope Salladhor is in it next season, I would love to hear a conversation between Tormund and him haha

  • I will join these ranks come season 5. I had my cable turned off today. Tired of taking it up the arse by Comcast every month.

  • Darkstar:
    Okay, serious question here. Not being a smart ass, truely. I just want to know:how can those pirating sites, which, if I understand it correctly, are allowing others to steal property, stay in business and make these types of reports without being shut down by the FCC or some such agency?

    1. Torrentfreak doesn’t host torrents, it reports on file-sharing and copyright news. There are also several websites that measure metrics from torrent trackers but don’t offer files or magnet urls.

    2. Most of the torrent tracker websites are hosted on foreign servers in countries that have lax copyright laws, if any, and periodically jump from domain to domain in order to avoid domain seizures.

  • Randa,

    Immune to fire?

    Didn’t season 3 start with Lord Commander setting one of them to fire?
    Didn’t Jon Snow kill one with fire in season 1?

    You have bad memory or what?

  • Arash,

    No, dear. I’m referring to the creatures who aren’t reanimated corpses, the White Walkers, one of whom Sam killed in s3 with dragonglass. Wights are the Army of Darkness that can be burned by fire, but their leaders are immune.

  • “no man gives me Game of Thrones. I pay the iron price. I will take my Game of Thrones.” – Balon Greyjoy

    who’s still alive… for now

  • As a torrenter, I will rejoin the paying HBO fold when I return to a place that has HBO. While I am stealing I don’t feel like I’m costing them money. Besides I can’t have an incomplete set of Blu rays now can I?

  • Steel_Wind:
    It would be helpful to also mention that despite these numbers, the Blu-Ray sales of GOT continue to lead the pack as well. It’s not all doom and gloom.

    And that doesn’t even START to count the coffee mugs and other branded merchandise HBO sells for GoT.

    To date, there have not been any torrents of a coffee mug or t-shirt on the internet.

    Many pirates also buy the blu-ray and/or subscribe to HBO. I always watch the initial airing on HBO, but the pirate copies are more convenient than HBO Go for rewatching or watching a scene frame-by-frame to see details, or watching on a phone or tablet without a reliable Internet connection (or with a limited data plan). I potentially get counted 3 times in the ratings: initial airing, torrent swarms, and blu-ray sales. Just doing my part to bump up the numbers :)

  • HoundsEar,

    That is exactly what we do with hbo go or on demand. I’ll actually wake up early to watch the show on Monday before work.

  • clegane:
    simple enough:
    it has not aired yet in our country
    we want to see it as soon as possible
    hence, torrent

    is it illegal? maybe
    is it bad for the show? why would it be exactly?

    Exactly. On HBO Nordic, it is not up until 1 pm. monday, and if I wanted to watch it a bit earlier, I could theoretically “borrow” it from the internet, on that day. I still payed to watch it, but it would count on the piracy statistic. In theory.

  • I pirate the show every Monday morning before work and watch it on my TV , which is hooked to my PC. What people don’t realize is the books are very popular all over the world.Places where it is not even possible to get HBO.You can’t expect people to stay in the dark for a full year until the Blue rays come out.I don’t personally get the whole fuss with the nielsen ratings to be honest.It’s an obsolete method and should be stopped.There are better ways to measure ratings in the 21st century.One look at social media, torrent trackers and just regular popular culture should tell you that Game of Thrones is the biggest TV phenomenon ever.
    In some countries even if you have HBO you have to wait for weeks for the episode, and some places it’s even dubbed…..
    There’s absolutely nothing wrong about piracy.In fact I can argue that if everyone pirated first and then pay later we would have better shows on TV and in the movie theaters.Hollywood releases the same old bullshit block buster with no plot whatsoever and some special effects and we all swarm the cinemas to watch it.Even if we didn’t like it , they’ve already made their money.It the money they made was actually coming from the quality of the product , things would be way different.
    I pirate everything from movies, TV shows, e-books etc.
    I don’t waste money on obsolete tapes, DVDs, Blue rays.I end up buying hardcover and e-books, go to the cinema and buy merchandise only of the things I’ve liked.I won’t ever encourage the making of stupid shit with my hard earned money.If somebody thinks this is illegal, they’re either still living in the past or too narrow minded to appreciate my point.

  • HBO should set up a PayPal account where all the downloaders could make a voluntary contribution, perhaps with one third of the money going to the actors, one third into the production budget for the next season and one third for HBO. I would pay good money, seriously.

    I have all 40 episodes in 1080 HD, all torrented. I actually bought the DVD set for season 1 when it came out to support the show, and guess what? Quality is lousy compared to 1080, my laptop couldn’t even play the DVD because of the copy protection (what a joke!!!) and I do not have a BluRay capable player in my house, I don’t even have a TV. so what am I supposed to do?

    I don’t need or want any merchandise sh!t which is the only other way to support HBO.

  • Shit, if HBO didn’t make it so hard to watch it legitimately and came out with the Blu-Ray/DVD sooner than an entire year from the ending of the season that aired there would be less pirating. And nobody wants to pay $100+ a month for cable TV + HBO, especially if it’s just for access to GoT. And outside of the U.S., some countries it’s not even shown or shown later (?). And it’s hard to be patient with it since the entire internet explodes with spoilers/reviews/conversation/memes/cartoons/parody videos/music videos about what happened on GoT last night (this is more of an Unsullied problem though)… by the time you get to watch it, you already know what’s going on for the most part.

  • “Im not going to rape her… I’m going to fuck her…”

    – Saladhor Saan, on deciding illegally download GOT

  • Where I live the episode airs on a Friday, following the US Sunday premiere, which means I have to wait about a week to see it on TV…

    …During which time ALL my friends and Co-Workers are talking about the episode, everywhere on FB and the internet people are talking about it.

    So the question is, WHY would I wait a whole week, when I can download a 1080 HD copy in a few hours, and watch it mere hours after it premieres instead?

    In this day and age people ARE NOT patient. Maybe in the past when the internet didn’t exist people could just wait around for the next episode, but these days? Ha, not a God damn chance in hell.

    Next question: Why should I be PUNISHED for being a product of our times? Just because I, along with pretty much everyone else, is impatient, and am DESPERATE… no SALIVATING, to watch the episode? Fuck that.

    HBO needs to create a global HBO Go service, where you can sign up in any country in the world, and watch the episode as it airs on your Tablet or phone or whatever. Of course that is impossible because different countries, laws, rules etc etc but I really don’t see any other solution.

    Fortunately GOT and HBO have been really cool about the whole thing, even commenting how piracy has made the show even more popular (Which is true). So there is that.

    And finally, I always buy the Blu-Ray’s once they come out, so…

  • Randa:
    Arash,
    No, dear. I’m referring to the creatures who aren’t reanimated corpses, the White Walkers, one of whom Sam killed in s3 with dragonglass. Wights are the Army of Darkness that can be burned by fire, but their leaders are immune.

    I bet Drogon would love to test that theory. :)

  • Darkstar,

    Hey Darkstar,

    Its generally because the site is based out of a different country were the internet laws are looser then America.

  • Darkstar,

    Torrent (and other means of pirating on the internet) stay in business because it is too hard to shut down. Sure every once in a while there is a high profile shut down and everyday there are low profile shutdowns. But for every site that is taken down 5 more sprout up in it’s place. The fact of the matter is, right or wrong; legal or illegal, almost all media is available for free on the internet if you look hard enough. The key for media creators like HBO is to expect it and plan accordingly.

  • Just stopped by to thank you for the image of Salladhor. Hoping for his reappearance in S5.

  • I download a torrent, then buy DVD when it comes out.

    I get early viewing and HBO get money.

    Win-Win.

    I live in the UK and sky tv is too expensive.

  • Good good there really is no reason to buy DVDs anymore and give HBO money – given that you can download HD quality torrents and watch them on your TV with an HDMI cable. These people in the entertainment business have disgustingly inflated salaries anyway.

  • My understanding is that in the UK (where I am based), Sky have some contract with HBO that they get all the new HBO shows and Sky isn’t cheap. It wasn’t always so; “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos” went to terrestrial TV. I’ve said before I’m in the minority of one that missed the appreciation gene for those two shows. “The Wire” did end up on BBC eventually but that was a long time after it was shot. “Dexter” ended up on a terrestrial channel eventually but again it was some time after the show first aired. On the news in the UK we keep hearing that the economy is improving (oh, there’s going to be an election next year!!!) but the truth is that times are tough and a lot of people, students, pensioners, people who have lost their jobs are having to get by on limited resources. Without HBO the show would not exist, of course, but while it’s possible downloading will go on. On a worldwide scale of what is good and bad – in my view at least – downloading “Game of Thrones” or any other show is not the most evil thing people could ever do. The choices for watching it in the UK are:- watch Sky, go round to a friend’s house to watch Sky (if you can get an invitation), wait till the DVDs come out, or download.

    HBO probably have reservations about partnering with the BBC because the partnership over “Rome” went “belly up”. (The history police in the UK complained loudly and vigorously about the historical inaccuracies in “Rome” – people pay for the BBC by a licence fee [obligatory whether you watch BBC regularly or not] so they had to take the complaints seriously).

    If Sky would introduce more reasonable rates perhaps there would be less pirating in the UK at least.

  • Here in Australia the evil cable network Foxtel (owned by some evil person R.M.) not only has the rights but has prevented itunes from selling the episode even after it airs it. Then they have the temerity to say how awful pirating is when their actions directly increases the instances of piracy.