Game of Thrones is back for the last time, and so are the pirates.
We're not referring to the Golden Company, but the 55 million people who pirated the first episode of season 8 within the first 24 hours.
By comparison, the episode drew 17.4 million viewers on its home turf, which is record-breaking.
The piracy data comes from analytics company MUSO, which revealed the top 10 countries responsible for the 54,261,910 illegal views:
- India - 9,499,934
- China - 5,173,475
- USA - 3,957,181
- UK - 2,452,659
- Nigeria - 2,211,749
- Iran - 1,820,002
- Kenya - 1,415,486
- France - 1,356,866
- Canada - 1,229,080
- Australia - 1,176,034
Yay, we're in the top 10 for something!
MUSO's data shows that people were also rewatching the previous series just before the new one came out, "with piracy surging throughout March, and more than doubling between February and 11 April." Interestingly, the most pirated series in that time was the first one, which MUSO says might have been down to Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)'s recommendation to rewatch Season 1 before Season 8.
The vast majority of the pirated episodes were streamed, at about 77 per cent. Web downloads came next at about 12 per cent, and torrents made up the other 11 per cent.
Not all the piracy was about not paying for HBO or Now TV – in China and India in particular, the episode wasn't available legally, or not uncensored, leaving a lot of people no choice but to infringe copyright.
Andy Chatterley, co-founder and CEO of MUSO comments:
"Perhaps unsurprisingly, the relentless, global demand for access to HBO’s Game of Thrones, through both legitimate and illegitimate channels, is still absolutely staggering. Season 8 has been long-anticipated by fans around the world, leading to what can only be described as piracy mania as dedicated fans look for streams and torrents, whether that be a result of the content not being available in their region, wanting to get in on the action early through fear of missing out, or to avoid seeing spoilers on social media. The episode also leaked hours in advance of the premiere, causing a frenzy on torrent and streaming sites across the world.
Regardless of rationale, the piracy figures for just the first 24 hours since the episode aired demonstrate that these audiences cannot - and should not - be ignored. Despite considerable global efforts to tackle piracy over the past couple of years, this data shows that consumers are still being driven to unlicensed sources to find content. It’s imperative that rights holders understand that piracy audiences are some of their most dedicated fans, which, above all else, presents a vast commercial opportunity."
Listen up, TV bods. Do you want our money or don't you?