Well congratulations to Game of Thrones season four premiere, for breaking the torrenting record previous set by the— which in turn broke the record set by the season three premiere.
According to TorrentFreak's now-regular data analysis around Game of Thrones, there were over one million downloads in half a day and at one point over 300,000 torrent users were sharing the premiere simultaneously. Last season's finale managed just 170,000.
Using a sample of 18,333 IP-address collected over the day, TorrentFreak reports that 11.6 per cent of users sharing the episode came from Australia, putting us number one in the world. The US follows at 9.3 per cent and the UK at 5.8.
If we look at individual cities, Melbourne and Sydney take the first and third spots on the podium, with Athens sneaking in for the silver.
In terms of why the torrent traffic is up worldwide, well the show is obviously more popular than ever — so popular, in fact, that HBO's own streaming service HBO Go crashed during the premiere and was unavailable for several hours. The theory is that many people who had paid for access to a legal version of GoT ended up using a torrent site during the outage.
Locally of course, Foxtel have the rights to broadcasting Game of Thrones for the entirety of this season — other services such as Quickflix and iTunes can only sell the episodes after the season is done. This may have contributed somewhat to Australia's higher ranking — we were only in the third spot for the season three premiere back when it was available on iTunes in line with the US showings.
Timeliness remains a factor as well. Foxtel are showing the episodes "express" meaning they will air in Australia just hours after the US. But a few hours is still a long time in the spoiler-filled world of social media.
We've heard rumours that suggested up to 40 per cent of Foxtel subscribers still used a torrent site to get a copy of the GoT S4 premiere. That sounds a little dubious — but, along with the aforementioned HBO Go crash, it does suggest a fact often forgotten in discussions of TV shows and torrents: not every downloaded episode is a direct loss of revenue.
People who pay for Game of Thrones may still, for one reason or another, be contributing to the torrent statistics. Similarly, people using a torrent site for their weekly viewing may still purchase the whole season at a later date, either through an online service such as iTunes or Quickflix or in an 'old-school' boxed set format.
Will the season 4 finale break worldwide torrent records again? No one can tell the future, but we'd certainly be offering even money if we were taking bets...