NEW YORK, April 9 (UPI) -- The season 4 premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones was not only the most watched program since the finale of The Sopranos, it was the most-pirated TV episode as well.
Clearly one of the most-awaited season premieres, Game of Thrones exceeded piracy levels achieved by the season 3 premiere within its first 24 hours. Piracy-tracking firm Excipio said it detected 1.17 million unique IP addresses accessing torrents for the episode within the first 15 hours of the episode airing.
According to TorrentFreak, more than a million people downloaded the episode 12 hours after it was telecast on HBO. Australia accounted for 11.6 percent of the downloads, which can be attributed to cable operator Foxtel having exclusive rights to the show.
But Excipio found that the U.S. was the biggest source of piracy, accounting for nearly 17 percent of total piracy traffic. Australia and Canada trailed the U.S.
Jeff Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner, which owns HBO, said that the being the most-pirated show was "better than an Emmy." Although high piracy numbers are a good measure of the show's popularity, the company would surely prefer to convert viewers into subscribers, HBO's primary source of revenue.
A reason for the spike in piracy could be that HBO Go, the Internet streaming service for subscribers, crashed because of what the company called "overwhelming demand."
Despite the high piracy numbers the show was watched legally by 6.6 million households.