Last year’s fifth season premiere of Game of Thrones smashed the previous season’s piracy record with a whopping 2.2 million individual downloads within the first 24 hours. Season six’s “The Red Woman” didn’t break this record, but if the numbers initially reported by TorrentFreak are any indication, that doesn’t really matter because Australia took the top spot previously held by the United States for the most illegal downloads of Game of Thrones by a single sovereign nation.
As reported by the Guardian, TorrentFreak determined that over a million people had downloaded “The Red Woman” within 12 hours of airing. More than 200,000 individuals started sharing pirated copies within the first few hours, and almost 50% of these were high definition (720p and 1080p) versions of the episode. However, the numbers that really stick out are those pertaining to Australia’s new top spot:
The show is particularly popular in Australia (12.5%), India (9.7%), United States (8.5%) and the United Kingdom (6.9%).
The top 10 is completed by the Philippines, Canada, the Netherlands, Greece, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
American exceptionalism reigned supreme for season five, but “The Red Woman” struck a chord with residents down under. Why? The current theory suggests that, since HBO Go was made available to everyone free of charge for the weekend of the premiere, fewer American television viewers were encouraged to commit piracy. Meanwhile, in Australia, avid Game of Thrones fans had to pay for Foxtel, a pay-as-you-go service, and tune in at 11 a.m. local time. As Pages Digital put it, “Australians really, really don’t want to pay for Foxtel.”
Despite Australia’s new dominance in all-things-Game-of-Thrones-piracy, Foxtel executive Brian Walsh told the Guardian that their numbers for the season six premiere were “phenomenal.” And they were, as an audience of 727,000 paid subscribers tuned in, resulting in numbers 31% bigger than last year’s premiere.