'More than billion' illegal downloads of Game Of Thrones
The latest season of Game Of Thrones was illegally downloaded more than a billion times, a piracy tracking firm has claimed.
According to MUSO, which tracks illegal download activity worldwide, the seventh season of the popular HBO show exceeded 1bn illegal downloads and streams across privacy channels by September 3.
With official figures for legal channels estimated to average 31m viewers per episode, the figures show that piracy of the show - which is part-filmed in locations across Northern Ireland - eclipsed legal viewings.
The unprecedented popularity of the show has seen fans across the world take to unlicensed channels to stream and download episodes in staggering numbers. Within the first 72 hours of broadcast, the Season 7 premiere was downloaded and streamed more than 90m times, while the season finale accumulated a figure of more than 120m downloads and streams.
However, episode six had received 29% more instances of piracy consumption than the season finale by the September 3, which is likely due to a leak that occurred before the episode officially aired. In addition, streaming activity accounted for a massive 85%, whereas torrents and private trackers made up less than 10% of the billion downloads and streams.
Torrenting sites and private trackers allow users to download large files online and are regularly used to illegally download TV shows and films.
Andy Chatterley, chief executive of MUSO, said: "Game Of Thrones has become one of the biggest global entertainment phenomena and activity across piracy networks has been totally unprecedented. It's no secret that HBO has been plagued by security breaches throughout the latest season, which have seen some episodes leak before broadcast and added to unlicensed activity. In addition to the scale of piracy when it comes to popular shows, these numbers demonstrate that unlicensed streaming can be a far more significant type of piracy than torrent downloads. It's time to acknowledge this audience, we should view this as an opportunity to understand the bigger picture."
The seventh season of the show was hit by a series of leaks and four people were arrested in India last month in connection with one hack.
HBO's internal servers were compromised, with scripts and the personal details of Game Of Thrones actors shared online.