As people across the world scrambled to view the first episode of its third season, HBO’s highly acclaimed Game of Thrones series on Sunday has also set a new record for modern day piracy.
According to piracy tracker TorrentFreak, over one million people downloaded the episode following its debut that night. In fact, over 163,000 individuals shared a single torrent at one instance, which is a record in itself. This beat former record holder Heroes, whose season three premier was simultaneously downloaded by 145,000 people in 2008.
Apparently, nothing about the reception is surprising, as the mythical drama was 2012’s most pirated TV series. Based on TorrentFreak’s estimates, 4.3 million individuals downloaded the final episode of season two in 2012. Comparatively, the next most pirated show, Dexter, was downloaded by only 3.8 million people.
TorrentFreak doesn’t have any estimates for the overall downloads for the first episode of season three. Nonetheless, it was able to track the location with the highest number of downloads. Most of the downloads came from London, while the countries with the highest numbers of downloads were the US, the UK and Australia.
Those who pirated the season three premiere mainly used BitTorrent. This free software platform allows users to share media files and some use it to illegally swap movies and other copyrighted materials.
While Hollywood is worried about illegal downloads, HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo said the network believes the huge piracy of Game of Thrones is a testament to its popularity rather than a problem.