Online Pirates Bring ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere Viewership to Eye-Popping Levels

April 17, 2019, 2:54 PM UTC

More than 17 million people tuned in to HBO to catch the season eight premiere of Game of Thrones. But more than three times that number stole the show.

Data from piracy monitoring firm MUSO indicates the show was pirated 54 million times in the first 24 hours. That’s a steep increase from the season seven premiere, which set piracy records of its own, with 90 million illegal viewings in 72 hours.

“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,” said Andy Chatterley, co-founder and CEO of MUSO. “The episode also leaked hours in advance of the premiere, causing a frenzy on torrent and streaming sites across the world.”

To put the number in perspective, 54 million is significantly more than the population of South Korea.

Most of the unauthorized views—over 76%—came from illegal streaming sites. (It’s worth nothing that securing hard numbers for streaming sites is notoriously hard, since—not surprisingly—they don’t advertise their total viewership numbers.)

India had the highest rate of piracy, nearly doubling that of runner up China. The U.S. had the third most unauthorized views.

HBO, historically, has monitored torrent sites during major events, sending out legal warnings to people hosting the downloads.