Sunday's season eight premiere of Game of Thrones broke HBO's all-time viewing record, as 17.4 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of the show's final season. That number could have been significantly higher, however, if a staggering amount of viewers hadn't streamed it illegally.
According to digital-piracy analytics company Muso, the Game of Thrones season eight premiere was pirated a whopping 54 million times globally in a span of 24 hours. India and China led the way in terms of countries where the "Winterfell" episode was illegally streamed most, although China censored the sex and violence from the premiere.
"Regardless of rationale, the piracy figures for just the first 24 hours since the episode aired demonstrate that these audiences cannot — and should not — be ignored," Muso CEO Andy Chatterley said in a statement. "Despite considerable global efforts to tackle piracy over the past couple of years, this data shows that consumers are still being driven to unlicensed sources to find content. It's imperative that rights holders understand that piracy audiences are some of their most dedicated fans, which, above all else, presents a vast commercial opportunity."
Muso also points out that each of the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones have ranked among the top 25 most pirated shows this month, as fans seemingly needed a refresher prior to diving into the show's final season.