Photo: Helen Sloan (HBO)

While the various and assorted Greyjoys of the Iron Islands are the undisputed masters of piracy within the Game Of Thrones universe, they’ve never been able to hold a candle to the swashbuckling digital buccaneers lurking among the show’s scofflaw-heavy fanbase. Engadget reports that the series’ just-debuted final season is already making strong moves to break its own considerable records as the most pirated TV series around, a record it briefly lost last year, on account of, well, not being on TV in 2018. (The Walking Dead took the dubious title instead, at least in terms of direct torrents of the series’ episodes.)

But with the debut of “Winterfell” last Sunday, the HBO series racked up a truly impressive 55 million pirated views in a single day, spread among illegal downloads, torrents, and—bringing in by far the most illicit eyes—bootleg streams. It’s not clear yet whether the show’s final run of six episodes will be able to match the 1 billion pirated viewings number reached by its slightly longer seventh, but it won’t be for lack of trying if it so.

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What’s more interesting than the pure numbers, though, is—as Engadget points out—who is streaming the show. Roughly 15 million of those viewings came from either India or China, where the show is either difficult to view without an expensive cable package, or censored in its “official” run. It’s an interesting window into the way that Game Of Thrones has become a global phenomenon, while the mechanism of its distribution has failed to keep pace.

Of course, HBO has more problems on its plate than just people sharing the series on the down-low; a TV research firm did a bit of polling of fans of the series recently, and found that 37 percent said that there was some likelihood that they might cancel their subscriptions to the network once the show goes off the air. Winter is coming, friends, for cable networks and pirates alike.

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