Illegal downloads of Game of Thrones surged 45% in the final weeks before season 5 premiere, according to new figures from anti-piracy expert Irdeto.
The findings indicate a 45% increase in piracy worldwide from 2014, with episodes of Game of Thrones (seasons 1-4) illegally downloaded more than 7 million times between February 5 and April 6, 2015. 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 U.S. this year, prior to HBO Now launching on April 7. Currently, HBO Now is only available in the U.S. 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,” says 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. When tracking country-specific piracy rates, Irdeto noticed a decline in illegal downloads for Game of Thrones in the Russian Federation (-27%) but interest spiked in other areas, such as India (155%). 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 U.S. saw an increase of nearly 10% in piracy, while the U.K. saw an increase of over 30%.