The season finale of Game of Thrones managed to break piracy records once again, despite HBO clamping down on pirates in Canada and the UK.
An estimated 1.5 million downloads of the tenth episode happened during the first eight hours, with a further five million since. It is expected to rise to over 10 million by the end of the week, as latecomers catch up.
The most popular countries for torrenting Game of Thrones appear to be the US, UK, Canada and India. 480p torrents continue to the most popular, with a lot of viewers watching on streaming sites like Popcorn Time.
HBO has distanced itself from comments made by executives earlier in the show’s history, promoting piracy. HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo even claimed the high piracy rate is a compliment and leads to more DVD sales and even more subscriptions in the long term.
This is most likely due to HBO Now and the launch of Game of Thrones worldwide in more than 40 countries within the same week. In the UK, Now TV is the only subscription service offering Game of Thrones content, with Sky owning the cable rights through Sky Atlantic.
The large investment will have an impact on DVD sales, if viewers in Europe and Asia have already watched the series. HBO has not released its own figures on viewership worldwide, hopefully it is higher than last year given the availability of Game of Thrones in 2015.
The fifth season featured some of the largest turns away from the A Song of Ice and Fire books, which Game of Thrones is based off. George R.R. Martin has been working hard to publish the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, before season six airs in summer 2016.
These plot changes from the book have seen mix reactions, with the Dornish plot heavily criticised due to poor choreography in the fighting scenes and acting that doesn’t make sense due to the merger of several characters into one.
The last episode had several characters in the same position they are in A Dance With Dragons, meaning if Martin does not release The Winds of Winter before season 6, book readers will be in for some massive spoilers.