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The seventh season of Game of Thrones delivered some of the biggest meetings and plot twists that viewers have been waiting for, all jam-packed into only seven episodes. As it turns out, there were plenty of people interested in the season who also apparently weren't too interested in watching through legal channels. New data indicates that Game of Thrones Season 7 was pirated over a billion times.
No, that's not a typo. New calculations in the wake of the Season 7 finale indicate that the most recent batch of episodes was indeed pirated more than a billion times. With only seven episodes, that one billion number for the season translates to approximately 140 million instances of piracy per episode. Given that only around 32 million people watched episodes through legal channels, the piracy numbers are truly staggering.
Surprisingly, a very small percentage of those who watched the season via piracy did it by downloading the episodes. According to piracy tracking company MUSO (via TorrentFreak), only 5.6% of that billion actually downloaded episodes to watch. The portion of viewers who used torrents was slightly higher, with 9.1%, but the vast majority of folks chose to stream the pirated content, with a whopping 84.7% watching the episodes online without download. The remaining 0.6% caught the episodes via private torrent.
All things considered, Season 7 wasn't the best for HBO when it comes to keeping a lid on Game of Thrones secrets. Hacks and leaks resulted in a couple of episodes hitting the web early, although the early releases definitely didn't stop the show from scoring record-breaking ratings through legal views. That said, the leaks seem to have resulted in a boost in piracy as well. The sixth episode -- which saw Jon Snow and Co. beyond to Wall to fetch a wight (and lose one of Dany's dragons) -- leaked days before its official airdate, and MUSO reports that it was pirated even more than the epic season finale.
That said, we shouldn't take the MUSO data as 100% precise. The initial numbers come from SimilarWeb, which utilizes information from 200 million pirate devices in order to estimate web traffic and extrapolate totals. There's also the point that the streaming data doesn't take Chinese traffic into account, so the numbers might be much higher if Chinese piracy was included in the estimate.
Season 7 definitely isn't the first time that Game of Thrones has resulted in a ton of piracy. HBO has taken steps to try and stop people from pirating, which is especially understandable now that there are legal ways of watching HBO series online for a fee. HBO also stopped distributing hard copies of screeners to the press in order to prevent episode leaks from reviewers, although there were still some issues in Season 7.
Given that Season 8 will be the very last season of Game of Thrones, the odds are pretty good that even more people will be pirating in the next batch of episodes. Unfortunately, we don't yet know when those episodes will be ready to debut. No approximate premiere date has yet been announced, and it's possible that we won't get the new season until 2019. Stick around CinemaBlend for the latest in Game of Thrones news, and be sure to take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule.