Game of Thrones Breaks BitTorrent Piracy Record, HBO Takes News in Stride

Pirates flocked to BitTorrent in record numbers to download the season premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones. Within an hour of the first torrent being uploaded, there were 163,088 people sharing the single file, breaking the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm ever.

That's according to TorrentFreak, which notes that the previous record was held by the season premier of Heroes with 144,663 peers. Game of Thrones blew past that mark, and if you count all the different releases, it's estimated that the season opener has been downloaded over a million times already.

Despite all this, HBO doesn't seem too ticked off. Just the opposite, actually.

"I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts," HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly in an interview. "The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network."

Game of Thrones

Lombardo's comments are equal parts refreshing and shocking. To be clear, he isn't condoning piracy in any way, he's just acknowledging that it's sometimes a side effect of success. In fact, he sounded more concerned about the torrent files' quality rather than the fact that they're being illegally downloaded in the first place.

“One of my worries is about the copies [downloaders are] seeing," Lombardo said. "The production values of this show are so incredible. So I’m hoping that in the purloined different generation of cuts that the show is holding up."

Are you paying attention to this, big media?