Game of Thrones, which ended its second season last week, was one of the most talked-about shows of the spring and a ratings success for HBO. It was also the most pirated show of the spring, according to BitTorrent news site TorrentFreak.com.
While the season finale of Thrones reached an all-time ratings high of 4.2 million viewers, its illegal audience is nearly as high, receiving 3.9 million downloads via the filesharing service BitTorrent.
The downloading audience is highest in Australia, where regular TV viewers must wait a week after the US premiere to see new episodes. But the downloads are also high in the US, where viewers must have a cable and an HBO subscription in order to view episodes on TV or online.
Game of Thrones downloads surpassed the record holder for all of 2011, Dexter, which saw 3.6 million downloads.
Other shows in the top 10 downloads for the spring include How I Met Your Mother (2.8 million), The Big Bang Theory (2.7 million), House (2.3 million), Mad Men (1.8 million), Modern Family (1.8 million), Revenge (1.7 million), Desperate Housewives (1.6 million), Family Guy (1.6 million) and Supernatural (1.5 million).
Game of Thrones is unique in that it’s one of the only shows on the list to have as large an illegal audience as it does a legitimate audience. Most shows, especially the network programmes, don’t have nearly as many people downloading episodes illegally in comparison with the regular viewers.