Actress Sophie Turner attends the premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 6 at TCL Chinese Theatre on April 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Photograph by Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images
By Jonathan Chew
April 26, 2016

The return of HBO’s Game of Thrones to the TV screen may have drawn record viewership, but it has also brought a legion of pirates back into the fold.

So far, the premiere episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones has been watched by over a million people who downloaded it via BitTorrent, a platform that allows users to download movies and TV shows without paying for it. More than 200,000 users are actively sharing the episode on BitTorrent, according to TorrentFreak.

The latest season’s first episode, “The Red Woman,” was particularly popular in Australia (making up 12.5% of all downloads), India (9.7%), United States (8.5%), and the United Kingdom (6.9%).

This continues the popularity of Game of Thrones among pirates, since the HBO series has been the most downloaded TV show for four years running. The season five finale last year was downloaded 1.5 million times in just the first eight hours it was made available on BitTorrent.

Last year, the show was downloaded 14.4 million times, easily beating out The Walking Dead (at 6.9 million downloads) and The Big Bang Theory (with 4.4 million downloads).

Networks like HBO are trying to combat piracy with streaming services that are cheaper and cut out the fat of a larger cable package. HBO Now lets users stream all its programming for $14.99 a month, with a one-month free trial for viewers to tap into popular events like the premiere of a new season of Game of Thrones. With this latest evidence of rampant downloading not abating, however, it would seem pirates are still flocking to channels like BitTorrent.

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