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Despite HBO’s previous claims that they weren’t that angry about how many people were pirating Game of Thrones, they’ve been making moves to try to limit such behavior in the future. But they may want to hasten their reactions, as reports have come out that Sunday night’s episode “Kill the Boy” has broken the show’s own record for the most illegal downloads in a single day. That’s one of the biggest backhanded accomplishments one can attain in entertainment these days.
The dust hasn’t even settled yet from “Kill the Boy,” but according to Variety, piracy-tracking firm Excipio is saying the episode has already been downloaded more than 2.2 million times in the 12 hours since it first aired on Sunday night. That’s an average of right around 200,000 downloads an hour, and it’s roughly more than 25% of the number of people that watch Game of Thrones on a live basis. That’s not a number that HBO can just stand back and look at without shivering a little bit.
Although it took a while to tabulate, the number of people who watched the Game of Thrones Season 5 premiere amounted to over 18 million viewers when Live+7 ratings and the non-TV platforms like HBO Now and HBO Go were accounted for. When looking at it from that perspective, 2.2 million doesn’t seem quite as high, but then realize that these were people who desperately wanted to watch the episode as quickly as possible, by any means necessary. One can assume that most of them would have been a part of the Sunday night viewing had they been legal subscribers.
One of the reasons why “Kill the Boy” racked up such a high number of downloads is that it was the fifth episode of the season, and the first that wasn’t part of the four-episode leak that occurred prior to the season premiere. It’d be crazy to think that at least some of the 2.2 million people weren’t a part of the crowd that pirated the first chunk of the season. HBO has taken steps to stop that kind of leak from happening again by lessening the amount of hard copy screeners they give out to press, but that’s not going to hinder people from going after the episodes following their live airing. It just stops potential spoilers from hitting the Internet too far ahead of time.
It’ll be interesting to see what the actual total is for downloads in the full 24 hours after “Kill the Boy” aired, and whether or not HBO will react harshly to the news. They probably won’t want to decapitate anyone or sic any dragons on them, but it seems like some form of punishment is coming along with Winter.