Less than 24 hours after the much-anticipated season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones aired in the US, BitTorrent experienced its largest swarm ever as impatient fans worldwide rushed to watch the latest episode of the cult fantasy TV show.
The file-sharing network never before had so many people sharing a file at once, with more than 160,000 peers operating at one time. The record for largest swarm was previously held by the season premiere of Heroes, which was simultaneously shared by more than 140,000 peers.
Within a few hours of the first Game of Thrones torrent for season 3, episode 1 appearing, 163,088 people were sharing the file, while 110,303 were sharing a complete copy of that torrent with 52,786 still downloading, TorrentFreak reports. It is now estimated that the episode has already been downloaded more than 1m times.
Game of Thrones was BitTorrent’s most-downloaded TV show of 2012, with 4.3m downloads per episode, and it looks set to continue this trend. HBO has made attempts to combat piracy of the show by reducing the delay in broadcasting to international viewers who don’t want to be far behind the US cable subscribers who get the goods first.
However, the No 1 download location for Sunday night’s episode was the US (12.9pc), followed by the UK (11.5pc) and Australia (9.9pc). This is likely the result of fans who don’t want to pay a full cable subscription for just one show.
While the argument has been raised that this level of piracy only adds to a show’s popularity, the real challenge to networks is to create a suitable legal platform to meet the obvious viewer demand.