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Irdeto has released global piracy figures for Game of Thrones in the final weeks leading up to the season premiere on April 12th. The findings indicate a 45 per cent increase in piracy worldwide from 2014, with episodes of Game of Thrones (seasons 1-4) illegally downloaded more than 7 million times between February 5th and April 6th. The same period saw 4.9 million downloads in 2014. The 2015 data shows an average of 116,000 illegal downloads per day of Game of Thrones episodes, which is an increase of 36,000 more downloads per day compared to 2014.
Irdeto found that previous episodes of the series were pirated almost 37,000 times during the first week of April in the US this year, prior to HBO Now launching on April 7th. Currently, HBO Now is only available in the US on Apple devices and PC/Mac browsers.
“It’s often said that piracy is good marketing, but as piracy continues to skyrocket, the mindset is shifting toward offering a compelling legal alternative like HBO Now to start converting pirates into paying customers,” said Rory O’Connor, vice president, services, Irdeto. “Our piracy data indicates Game of Thrones continues to be wildly popular in countries like Brazil and France, where a service like HBO Now could be a good way to recapture some revenue.”
Despite the popularity of The Walking Dead and new shows like Vikings, Game of Thrones is still the most pirated show worldwide. According to the data from Irdeto, Game of Thrones was downloaded over 7 million times in the February 5th through April 6th timeframe compared to The Walking Dead, which had over 5.7 million downloads, followed by Breaking Bad (3.8 million), Vikings (3.4 million) and House of Cards (2.7 million).
“New season premieres definitely increase piracy activity, both of old episodes and the new season. The best way to combat piracy is a combination of monitoring downloads, taking down illegal streams and providing compelling and legal alternatives to piracy. HBO Now represents a distribution model in line with how consumer consumption patterns are changing. HBO Now is adapting to changes in how content is consumed,” stated O’Connor.
When tracking country-specific piracy rates, Irdeto noticed a decline in illegal downloads for Game of Thrones in the Russian Federation (-27 per cent) but interest spiked in other areas, such as India (155 per cent). The percentage change by country is mostly dependent on the popularity of the TV show, however it is expected that in the future, developing countries will increasingly contribute to the rise in piracy due to general improvement in broadband penetration and quality. When it comes to more developed countries, the US saw an increase of nearly 10 per cent in piracy, while the UK saw an increase of over 30 per cent.
“Piracy is a tidal wave that cannot be controlled, only managed. There is a culture of ‘free’ where many people believe that it is acceptable to pirate these TV shows if they don’t have access to them through legal means,” commented O’Connor. “If we want to continue to have great TV shows like Game of Thrones, business models need to be protected. That’s why we are passionate about this mission and are investing in technologies and services to help content and rights holders monitor and fight piracy across all distribution formats and release windows.”