'Game of Thrones' Season 4 breaks piracy record

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"Game of Thrones" is a ratings juggernaut on more than just the small screen. The HBO drama also earned itself the title (again) of most pirated program of all time.

TorrentFreak reports that a single copy of Season 4, episode 2 "The Lion and the Rose" was shared 193,000 between BitTorrent users, and that it was downloaded by about 1.5 million people within the first 24 hours after the episode aired. The site calls these numbers "unprecedented," and notes that these are global numbers. 

The previous record was set by "Game of Thrones" as well with its Season 3 finale "Mhysa," which had 170,000 people sharing the same tracker and was downloaded about 1 million times.

Considering that HBO TV shows are limited in streaming options only to those who subscribe to the network, it's easy to assume that those who downloaded the show illegally and those who gave the episode its high live ratings don't overlap. If that's the case, that means that the number of viewers of "Game of Thrones" exceeds the ratings numbers that come in, and the show is even more of a global phenomenon.

TorrentFreak found that the Season 4 premiere episode was downloaded primarily from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. HBO has responded to the desire for "Game of Thrones" episodes to be available at the same time internationally as they are in the United States. The network made a deal with Sky Atlantic to simulcast Season 4 in the UK, which means the episodes air at 2 a.m. GMT.

"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays on 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Photo/Video credit: HBO