There was a time, long ago, when TV shows aired at a certain hour, on a certain day. If you wanted to watch said show, you would have to bend your life to the will of the programming gods or else miss that precious new episode of Just Shoot Me forever (or at least until syndication).
Those days are gone. The old-time programming gods have been toppled, their powers usurped. And now, even with the multitude of streaming options, many people are finding a way out of paying for that privilege. According to a new analysis from anti-piracy firm MUSO, a massive majority of people who tuned into the latest season of Game of Thrones watched it illegally.
The Washington Post reports that the show's seventh season may have been breaking legal viewership records, but while the finale was the show's "most-watched episode ever" with 16.5 million HBO subscribers tuning in, nearly ten times more—143 million—saw Jon Snow's clenched butt illicitly online.
Sure, illegal streaming is just what happens now, but Game of Thrones was particularly plagued with leaks this season. HBO tried to curb the usual episode leaks by not sending out media screeners this year, but between those ransom hackers and the accidental release of episodes four and six before their air dates, that plan didn't work out so well.
In total, the latest season was pirated more than a billion times, either streamed or downloaded through a torrent. That includes people who watched pirated individual episodes online and those who illegally copped a download of the entire season as well. According to MUSO's report, those 1.03 billion views dwarf the average 31 million viewers who tuned in to each episode legally.
"Game of Thrones has become one of the biggest global entertainment phenomena of today and activity across piracy networks has been totally unprecedented," Andy Chatterley, CEO of MUSO, said in a statement. "In addition to the scale of piracy when it comes to popular shows, these numbers demonstrate that unlicensed streaming can be a far more significant type of piracy than torrent downloads."
HBO has yet to comment on the MUSO report, but at least it won't have to worry about more Game of Thrones leaks anytime soon since the eighth and final season hasn't even begun shooting yet.