Illegal Game of Thrones downloads a major driver of increasing piracy

  • Episodes heavily pirated in the week leading up to the launch of HBO Now
  • A legal service like HBO Now could be a good way to recapture some revenue
Illegal Game of Thrones downloads a major driver of increasing piracy

THERE was a 45% increase in piracy worldwide from 2014, with episodes of Game of Thrones (Seasons 1-4) illegally downloaded more than seven million times between Feb 5 and April 6, 2015, according to Irdeto.
The same period saw 4.9 million downloads in 2014, the San Jose, California-based anti-piracy and revenue assurance solutions company said in a statement.
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 with 2014.

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Irdeto found that previous episodes of the series were pirated almost 37,000 times during the first week of April in the United States this year, prior to HBO Now launching on April 7. Currently, HBO Now is only available in the United States 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,” said Rory O’Connor, vice president of services at 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,” he added.
Despite the popularity of The Walking Dead and new shows like Vikings, Game of Thrones is still the most pirated show worldwide, Irdeto said.
According to its data, Game of Thrones was downloaded over seven million times in the Feb 5 through April 6, 2015 timeframe, compared with The Walking Dead, which had over 5.7 million downloads, followed by Breaking Bad (3.8 million), Vikings (3.4 million) and House of Cards (2.7 million).

Illegal Game of Thrones downloads a major driver of increasing piracy

“New season premieres definitely increase piracy activity, both of old episodes and the new season,” said O’Connor.
“The best way to combat piracy is a combination of monitoring downloads, taking down illegal streams and providing compelling and legal alternatives to piracy.
“HBO Now represents a distribution model in line with how consumer consumption patterns are changing. HBO Now is adapting to changes in how content is consumed,” he added.
Piracy spikes across the globe
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 United States saw an increase of nearly 10% in piracy, while the United Kingdom saw an increase of over 30%.

Illegal Game of Thrones downloads a major driver of increasing piracy

“Piracy is a tidal wave that cannot be controlled, only managed. There is a culture of ‘free’ where many people believe that it is acceptable to pirate these TV shows if they don’t have access to them through legal means,” said O’Connor.
“If we want to continue to have great TV shows like Game of Thrones, business models need to be protected.
“That’s why we are passionate about this mission and are investing in technologies and services to help content and rights holders monitor and fight piracy across all distribution formats and release windows,” he added.
Irdeto tracked illegal download data for previous Game of Thrones seasons in the United States, United Kingdom, and over 200 countries worldwide between Feb 5 and April 6 in both 2014 and 2015.
This data was procured through Irdeto’s automated crawlers that use proprietary tracking software to identify users and files on the BitTorrent network. A download represents a unique IP (Internet Protocol) address pirating a unique file on the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network.
Irdeto collects business intelligence that tracks BitTorrent piracy and focuses largely on those services competing for the ‘additional consumer dollars’ beyond basic subscription packages.
Reports cover the most popular TV shows from pure over-the-top (OTT) operators (Amazon Prime, Crackle, Hulu, Netflix) versus premium broadcasters (HBO, Showtime, Starz) and broadcasters with syndication deals with the pure OTT operators (AMC, FX).
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