Game of Thrones returned to HBO with some of its highest ratings yet last Sunday, but even those numbers were dwarfed by an even bigger audience. The season 8 premiere had almost 55 million pirated views across illegal streams, downloads, and torrents in the first 24 hours, according to analytics firm MUSO.
Of those 55 million pirated views, MUSO says that the vast majority (76.6 percent) came from unofficial streams of the episode, with web downloads accounting for 12.2 percent of views, public torrents for 10.8 percent, and private torrents for 0.5 percent.
For comparison, HBO saw a total of 17.4 million viewers across its three platforms (the premium cable channel and its two internet streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now), split between 11.8 million for the traditional TV channel and 5.6 million on the company’s official internet streams. Those numbers will likely go up in the coming days as more viewers watch the episode, but, presumably, so will the pirated views.
According to MUSO’s data, the most pirated views by country came from India (roughly 10 million views), which MUSO speculates is due to the difficulty of accessing the show there, and China (with roughly 5 million pirated views), which only airs a censored version of the show through official channels. On the other hand, the United States — which perhaps has the easiest legal means to access HBO — came in third on the charts with nearly 4 million illegal views, so it’s also possible people just don’t like to pay for HBO.
If past seasons are any indication, enthusiasm for the show is only going to grow as the final season progresses. That’s good news for HBO’s ratings, which will likely continue to break its own record. Looking at the massive piracy figures, you have to wonder what those numbers would look like if the series was even more accessible to users.