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For several years now, there has been a sense of familiarity for the annual list of TV shows that are illegally downloaded the most, with The Walking Dead riding Game of Thrones' coattails on a regular basis. But this year, a major change has occurred, with HBO's fantasy epic no longer taking that top spot. Game of Thrones has handed the non-victorious pirating reins over to Amazon's record-breaking series The Grand Tour. This is quite surprising, especially considering Jeremy Clarkson's latest home still has that new car smell.
Astoundingly, the first episode of The Grand Tour was illegally downloaded 7.9 million times in the past few weeks, which is slightly less than the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale racked up last year in its first week of release. Episode 2 has already gotten beyond 6.4 million pirated views, while the third episode managed 4.6 million lawless downloads, according to The Daily Mail. While a TV show's legitimate ratings will generally dip steadily after a premiere, it doesn't look like there's even a vague sign of a drop in pirated copies acquired by non-subscribers. One one hand, there's a modicum of pride to be gleaned from putting out a show that can retain an audience, but that's definitely the wrong kind of audience.
Being the most illegally downloaded TV show necessarily means a giant chunk of change is being withheld from all deserving parties. It's estimated that Amazon lost out on $4.06 million from piracy of the first episode by Britain alone, which accounted for a majority of over 13.7% of the total number. It's unclear how those numbers were arrived at, but if that's a real indication of financial losses, things could definitely add up. It would be a lot more horrifying if Amazon wasn't one of the biggest companies in the world, but millions of dollars isn't chump change for anyone.
HBO wasn't too forceful or war-minded about piracy for those initial years when Game of Thrones regularly topped the lists, but the network later started taking steps to try to eliminate as much of it as possible, getting litigious when need be. It's extremely unclear how Amazon will move forward with this information, and there likely won't be a dip in unwarranted views in the near future, thanks to critical acclaim and positive word of mouth. So perhaps drawing up a strategy sooner, rather than later, would be wisest.
Amazon Studios had a ton of confidence when it picked up The Grand Tour, reportedly putting up $250 million for the unscripted series in the months after the controversial firing of Jeremy Clarkson from his long-running gig as co-presenter of Top Gear. Clarkson, along with Richard Hammond and James May, already had millions upon millions of international fans prior to The Grand Tour's premiere, and it seemed the company's investment was all for glory when the episode became the most-watched premiere of any Amazon Original. (As well, Amazon Prime racked up more new subscriptions on that Friday than any other non-Prime Day point in the company's history.) But for all that good news, there's always a flip side.
You can currently watch the first four episodes of The Grand Tour Season 1, with new episodes hitting Amazon every Friday. Game of Thrones fans will be waiting until at least the middle of 2017 to see Season 7 rear its brutal head. To see what else you'll be able to watch (legally) in the near future, check out our midseason premiere schedule.