It didn’t take Nostradamus to predict that the third season of Game of Thrones would be a big ratings winner, and it certainly was. So big, in fact, that the fourth season got the green light from the success of the first show of season three.
It’s also gained another interesting distinction in the era of DVR and VOD in that it’s officially the most bootlegged show on TV.
When Thrones returned to HBO, it brought in 4.4 million viewers, 6.7 million total with repeat viewings that night. Therefore, it was a no brainer that Games got the greenlight for its fourth season, because its following has been getting stronger every season.
As Variety notes, once the news of Thrones’s triumphant third season came in that the broadcast was downloaded illegally over a million times. This happened in under twenty four hours from the season premiere, with 160,000 people watching the show via BitTorrent, breaking the previous record, the third season premiere of Heroes, which got 144,633 BitTorrent downloads, or “swarms.” Thrones was also the most illegally downloaded show of last year, and it’s on track to beat that record again.
This kind of a thing is a given in today’s day and age, and as HBO said in a statement, they’ve tried to cut down on piracy by premiering the show world-wide on the same night, closing the window between the U.S. and European debuts. The network also stated, “From initial data, we have seen the benefits of this strategy with viewership up significantly in international markets in comparison to least season, as well as a record premiere here in the U.S.”
The statement continued, "Game of Thrones is a global phenomenon and HBO uses every tool available to protect its content. Unfortunately, with such success also comes theft. Many anti-piracy tactics have been effective and we will continue to improve those efforts so we can continue to deliver high quality, acclaimed programming to our customers."
However they choose to watch it, fans have been turning up in droves, and this is definitely a good sign, and great free publicity too for Thrones. Pirating could eventually cut into DVD and Blu-ray sales, but right now the ratings are strong enough to withstand piracy, which is a true sign that Thrones is a tremendous success across the board.