Game of Thrones Downloads Reach Record Numbers

Game of Thrones still the most pirated TV series
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Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Cast member Peter Dinklage arrives for the season four premiere of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" in New York in this March 18, 2014, file photo. The blood-filled finale of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones" was watched by 7.1 million viewers, the network said on Monday, topping the 5.4 million people who watched last season's closing episode. REUTERS

The fourth season of the popular HBO Original Series "Game of Thrones" has become the most downloaded TV series in history, with its popularity growing more with each season. To date, there have been four seasons that have been aired and the number of pirated downloads and legal TV ratings have been steadily rising since the first season aired in 2011.

The mafia-inspired HBO series "The Sopranos" previously held the record for most watched TV series on HBO.Illegal downloads of the hit show based on the book series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George RR Martin, has not only surpassed other TV shows but completely dwarfs them in comparison.

Pocket-lint made an analysis of the download numbers in Pirate Bay, one of the most popular download sites in the world.  The figures were taken mid-season after the airing of the seventh episode. It appears that pirated downloads reached nearly 100,000 seeds for the standard definition copy and almost 50,000 for the 720p HD version for "Game of Thrones" and the closest rival, "The Big Bang Theory," had only 21,500 seeds for their SD version and 3,000 for HD. 

Another show that was compared against "Game of Thrones" include "24: Live Another Day" whose episode in the same time period only reached 9,500 seeds in SD and 2,800 for HD. "Mad Men" managed only 5,500 seeds for SD and 2,000 for SD while "Arrow" did fairly well at 10,000 SD downloads and 2,000 for HD, all nowhere close to "Game of Thrones".

The popular HBO series does not only reign supreme in illegal downloads but audience share during its premiere airings on HBO are also quite stellar. According to Nielsen ratings published on digital trends, "Game of Thrones" averaged 2.5 million U.S. viewers during its regular first season time slot in 2011. As the show grew more popular after its first season, the average jumped to 3.8 million in 2012 for the second season. The show just kept on getting even more popular and gaining momentum with 5 million views last year for its third season. By the middle of the fourth season, it didn't look like viewers were letting up and the numbers just keep getting bigger with the fourth season's seventh episode "Mockingbird" netting 7.2 million viewers. 

Viewers are left with another year until the next season comes out and it only remains to be seen if the upward trend will continue or if the series will lose steam amid criticism related to sensitive content on the show.

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