HBO is cracking down on piracy after the first four episodes of Game of Thrones season five were leaked online ahead of its premiere on April 12. By tracking the 32 million illegal downloads – a new record! – it was revealed that some countries have much higher piracy rates than others.
According to media intelligence firm Tru Optik, Canadians were among the leading pirates of the series, with 19 per cent of Canucks watching the show through an illegal download compared to just 8 per cent of fans in the United States. (Americans led the pack in terms of sheer numbers, with 10 per cent of all downloads originating from the US.)
Unlike American viewers, Canadians don’t have access to the streaming service HBO Now, which may help explain why more Canadians turn to illegal streaming methods.
It was Australians, however, who proved to be the biggest offenders of the bunch per capita, with 32 per cent of viewers Down Under pirating the epic fantasy drama.
Under Canada’s copyright laws, the unauthorized download of a TV show could mean a maximum fine of $5,000, though experts say it’s unlikely that the average downloader will end up going to court.
Thankfully, the show is proving to be just as popular with legal viewership. The season five premiere attracted a record 8 million viewers, officially making Game of Thrones HBO’s most-watched original series ever.
Given GOT's reputation for killing lead characters, its two creators, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, admitted that cast members are always nervous when they call the main actors on the phone.
"Sometimes we're just calling to say, 'Hey, do you guys want to come out for dinner?' But as soon as they get that phone call they think we're calling to say, 'You're dead', like it's the Grim Reaper on the line," joked David.
David teased fans in Entertainment Weekly ahead of the premiere, revealing viewers would be in for a treat with season five. "Worlds are colliding," he said of the series, based on the books by George R.R. Martin.
"We've had all these far-flung storylines across Westeros and Essos, which almost never cross. Now some of these characters start to head on a collision course for each other."
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9 pm on HBO Canada.