Some people just cannot wait. Make that almost a million people.
Game of Thrones season five, set to premiere on HBO Sunday evening, began emerging from piracy networks and downloaded more than three-quarter million times.
The pirated copies appeared on torrent sites around 10 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, only a day before its official launch.
Through 7 a.m. Sunday, more than 550,000 individual clients leaked the first four episodes of GoT worldwide, reports Todd Spangler of Variety.
Copyright intelligence firm Excipio estimates that as of 9 a.m., the number of downloads hit 778,985 – all legitimate copies, which suggest the source may have been a press screener.
Thrones is one of the most popular titles for illegal downloading, says Excipio, which specializes in detecting copyright infringements on the Internet through peer-to-peer networks. The HBO original fantasy series took the honor as most-pirated show in 2014, with over 48 million episodes taken by way of torrent services, reaching its peak within 24 hours of season four finale.
Piracy has plagued Time Warner’s premium cable network, even as they launch HBO Now — the $15-a-month broadband-only service separate from its pay-TV product. HBO Now is designed to compete with streaming services Hulu and Netflix.
Currently, HBO Now is available only in the United States via Apple and Cablevision.
Spangler notes that some experts see pre-release piracy as promotional, although it has strong negative effects on revenue.
In 2013, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes called piracy “better than an Emmy” for generating buzz around Thrones.