Australia top Game of Thrones pirating nation


news Australia is the nation which most pirates the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones, new analysis released this week has shown, with time delays and cable TV lock-in being the primary culprits believed to be behind the nation’s copyright infringing habits.

Earlier this week, global BitTorrent-focused website TorrentFreak published a new analysis of piracy activities surrounding Game of Thrones, the popular TV show based on George R. R. Martin’s hit fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. The aim of the analysis was to provide some background to why pirating activity around the show, which is produced by US network HBO, is so strong, with an estimated three million downloads per episode globally.

According to TorrentFreak’s analysis, currently more illegal downloads of Game of Thrones take place in Australia than in any other country of the world — including the US, which has a population of 313 million, compared with just 23 million in Australia. Currently, some 10.1 percent of Game of Thrones downloads originate in Australia, the website wrote, compared with 9.7 percent in the US, 7.7 percent in Canada and 7.6 percent in the United Kingdom. Some 3 percent — or 90,000 — downloads take place in Sydney alone, with an additional 2.9 percent taking place in Melbourne.

In Australia, Game of Thrones is currently released through several legal avenues — on Foxtel’s Showcase channel, several times daily, and through Apple’s iTunes platform. However on both platforms, the show’s latest episodes show at least a week after they do in the US, meaning Australians are forced to wait for a week or more before being able to watch the same content which US HBO subscribers have access to. The current schedule for episode 10 of the show, for example, has it airing on the 3rd of June in the US, but only showing through Foxtel starting from the 12th of June in Australia — nine days later.

“One of the prime reasons for the popularity among pirates is the international delay in airing,” wrote Torrentfreak. “In Australia, for example, fans of the show have to wait a week before they can see the latest episode. So it’s hardly a surprise that some people are turning to BitTorrent instead.”

The issue of the availability of Game of Thrones in Australia has been an enduring topic of popular debate associated with the issue of Internet piracy locally. In late April, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull specifically mentioned the availability of Game of Thrones as he called for the content industry to start releasing all of its content globally through on- and offline platforms simultaneously upon launch, in an effort to meet the demands of consumers and make piracy irrelevant.

“Basically you’ve got to recognise that the minute Game of Thrones or any other show is put to air, it will be available globally,” said Turnbull. “So the owners of that copyright have got to be in a position where it can be released simultaneously theatrically, or in the case of something like that on Pay TV everywhere. But also, it should be for sale through the iTunes store or various other platforms at the same time.”

“Because if it’s not for sale — because what’s happening is, Game of Thrones, episode three I think goes on air this week in Australia. I think it went to air a couple of weeks ago in the States. It’s been tweeted and written up and Facebooked endlessly – and if they can download, they will. Now we’re just kidding ourselves — all they are doing is throwing money away by not making it available instantly.”

iiNet chief executive Michael Malone wrote on iiNet’s blog around the same time that he was a big of a “tragic” for Game of Thrones and it was “killing” him to know that he would have to wait several weeks before he could legally watch new episodes in Australia — even though Internet pirates had already made the content available on BitTorrent.

There’s not a lot to say here. It seems obvious that Australians really want to watch Game of Thrones in a timely and costly manner, and the people who make the show seem determined to stop us at all costs. I like to think Game of Thrones is so popular in Australia because as a nation, we either have really good taste, or are a nation of bloodthirsty savages who like to watch people’s heads getting chopped off and dragons breathing fire at people. Either or both is fine ;)

Image credit: HBO (promotional shot from Game of Thrones TV show)


  1. Why is it they region lock/delay this stuff?
    Surely its better to ride the wave of global excitement rather than allow your market to ebb and flux with a tide of controlled viewings?

  2. Once again it comes back to the major stakeholders like HBO, and other publishing companies holding all the cards and refusing to adapt to the new world. It’s such a pity. If I could subscribe to HBO in Australia, I would.

  3. HBO in particular I would subscribe to. Such a great history of brilliant, high quality shows.

  4. A few odd typos – he was a “big” of a tragic and I don’t think Australian’s want a “costly” manner to watch the TV show either.

    • ‘he was a big of a “tragic” for Game of Thrones’

      I think ‘big’ should be ‘bit’.

      And in ‘in a timely and costly manner’

      I think ‘costly’ should be ‘cheep’ or ‘inexpensive’.

      So the first one is a typo and the second an antonym.

  5. Doing the nasty and downloading a copy illegally, means you can watch it ad-free, at a time that suits you, on a device of your choosing.

    Give me a device/provider agnostic product, at reasonable prices, as soon as it’s available.

    Don’t lock me into one ecosystem/device (e.g. iTunes/iOS, Foxtel) – I want to be able to watch it on every device I own, today and tomorrow. My media purchases shouldn’t decide my device purchases.

    $40 per season, digitally/physically, is a ridiculous price. Halve the price, make it easy to pay (Paypal, credit card, pre-paid voucher) and you’ll more than likely double your sales.

    Make it available globally, simultaneously. There’s nothing stopping Apple/HBO pressing the button and making the same file available globally. The reason we wait a week, compared to the US, is because of Foxtel/Austar. They’re just one outlet, and waiting for them to screen it is obviously not working.


    • And yes, I understand simultaneous broadcast of the program globally is nonsensical. 9pm Sundays US East-Coast time obviously doesn’t translate to prime-time in Australia.

      • They could easily broadcast it on Monday nights at 9pm. Most of us are downloading it after midday-afternoon anyway whats a few extra hours.

    • Yah, $40/season is a bit over-the-top, I’d prefer Au$20, but I’d take the $40 IF I could get it, which I can’t.

      I’m not worried about simultaneous broadcast, but simultaneous release makes me drool uncontrollably with desire — I don’t mind the D/L at 3am, ‘cos I’ll be asleep and it’s the computer has to wake up!

      Now how do you do that telepathy thing again?


  6. “are a nation of bloodthirsty savages who like to watch people’s heads getting chopped”

    I especially liked the part where the horses head rolls. So did I, in hesterics.

  7. The only way I can get GoT in 1080p and with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound within a week of it airing in the USA is via “illegal” means!

    I’d pay $2.99 for new episodes from iTunes if they weren’t delayed by 3 weeks so if the content Nazi’s cant pull their finger out and distribute content globally at the same time to all they wont get my hard earned cash and it’s their own fault!

    An even better example is Once upon a Time, my wife heard about this show months ago but its only now airing on ch Seven right as the first season finishes in the USA so we DL’d it!

    • Yep, I break the law – I pirate things. Im damn proud of it. I only do TV shows and thats only because they dont make them legally available here.

      NCIS , Dexter , GoT, whatever – they’re all available here very late. These people need to get with the program – hell I’d buy HBO if it was available.

  8. Piracy is not about the cost, it is about the availability and delivery.
    Piracy quantifies the un-met demand due to inefficiencies in the supply chain.
    It’s a supply side issue.

    • “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24/7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable” – Gabe Newell – Managing Director of Valve

      If they could match this service, then I (for one) would buy it every week or buy a subscription.
      But they don’t. So I can’t. So I pirate. =P

      • That’s why Gabe’s steam games that are cheap and easy to download are some of the mostr pirated games.

        Yes, sure, a lot of people pirate because of availability, but lets be honest and say there are a percentage that pirate because they can and they get the stuff for free. What that percentage is, more than the “I only pirate because it’s unavailable crew” say and less than the studios say.

    • Is it still called piracy, when there are no legal sources in our country for a particular show/series?
      (be it FTA, PAY, iTunes, DVD sellers or Rental)

  9. Well Mr. Turnbull… if the whole world had NBN equivalent speed Internet which you claim is “not necessary” they could do a simultaneous release date…… and call it IPTV.

  10. The last couple of weeks I have set my PVR to record Touch on Sunday night on Ten, both times I have ended up with the last ten minutes of Masterchef and the first 55 minutes of Touch. I’d like someone from Ten to explain to me how that discourages downloading exactly?

    • Didn’t you know, you have to set your PVR to start 15 minutes before the show is supposed to start, and finish recording at least 15 minutes after it’s due to end – sometimes 20 or 30, depending on the channel.

      With ABC or SBS, we found 5 minutes at either end almost always covered it, but Channel 10, in particular, it was more like 20-30 minutes either side.

      Mind you, that was about 5 or 6 years ago, I don’t think I’ve watched anything on Channel 10 since then… the ads just drove me nuts. I don’t miss it, either. :-)

      • This constantly dives my wife bonkers…
        Always getting too much BS “The Voice” and not enough “Castle” or something.

        or they like to play episodes in the wrong order, or old episodes instead of the new ones…

  11. For anyone who is considering doing this legally, this is what you’re looking at for costs with Foxtel:
    – $45/month Basic Package
    – $16/month for Showtime Movies Package (so you can get GoT)
    – $10/month for the HD-PVR, so you don’t have to watch the damn thing when *they* say.

    So, $71/month, over a minimum 12 Month contract = $852.
    Kinda pricey just to get one show, and to be able to only keep the episodes for a few weeks (so, no weekend binges whenever you want).

    Yes, there’s other content on the network, but after having had Foxtel (well, Austar, but the same channels) for three years, I’m not exactly enthusastic about the million repeats of the same shows over and over.

    The other thing that shits me off, is that even though you’re paying premium prices for these — they still insert ad breaks into the programs. (I’m not sure if they do that for GoT, but it wouldn’t surprise me)

  12. Thats because Masterchef and other “reality” TV shows are prime time. Seems to me more and more of the local channels are offering these types of shows anyway.

    Look at Go over here in Perth, I don’t know about the east coast but over here they are repeating the same episode of sienfeld or whatever they are airing all day. If there was a good online content delivery system then you could watch a random episode of whatever show you felt like when you felt like it.

  13. Hulu meets a great demand for cheap/free content that is delayed from original broadcast. And, I expect, that companies like Foxtel don’t air GoT on the same/next day to the US because they don’t want to pay for the privilege.

    What it should be looking at is how many ‘pirates’ (remember when pirating meant paying for a copy, not just obtaining a copy?) buy it on DVD/BRD vs those who pay for Foxtel vs those who don’t watch the broadcast at all. I’d hazard a guess that a large number of people will baulk at paying for content twice.

  14. A similar situation occurs in sports. I’m a big NBA fan. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I can now get my fix when I want it on the device I want with no ads. And I’m more than happy to pay a couple of hundred dollars for the privilege. Surely if HBO did the sums and charged $30 to a decent percentage of those 300k who download they’d be better off than selling to Foxtel, as I’m sure Foxtel hasn’t paid 10mil for the privilege of airing this.

    • On the subject of annoying restrictions on content – the AFL now streams live games overseas for a fee. I’d love to be able to pay the AFL for the right to watch my team (living in a non-AFL mad state means i rarely get to see them) however they’ve geo-locked Aussies from viewing. I don’t want to have to pay for a Telstra broadband service for the privilege of watching AFL. Or Foxtel for that matter. Then again, Foxtel have paid a huge sum for “exclusive” rights.

  15. The broadcast ecosystem is at certainly at fault.

    The recent launch of the “Once Upon a Time” TV series on channel 7 for example.
    Channel 7 launched into a media blitz, pushing advertising for the upcoming series starting back in February, which terms such as Most Watched in US, and Highly Entertaining. However, with theor advertising, were no information about WHEN it would be shown.
    As viewers, we are left in the lurch about anything more. It was just more of the “Coming Soon” spiel. As far as we know (using previous series launches as examples), it wouldn’t come on the air unil July.
    Getting bombardard with all this “you have to watch this really great series” advertising, and then left with nothing, leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This would lead you of course to the internet to download the series.

    As for Game of Thrones, this is the second season.
    I had heard about the first season early last year. I’d heard all about the story from friend who had read the books, saying it was very good.
    I’d seen all the trailers on youtube, and read write ups.
    It had already been broadcast in the US in its entireity.
    But when I went to look for sources here in Australia? Nothing. No DVDs. No rentals. No free to air (which would never happen without a lot of censorship), and nothing in PayTV either. iTunes didn’t even have it.
    Where do you go when there are no sources in Australia? Of couse you have to download it if you want to watch it.
    And all this was several months before FoxTel would start advertising.

  16. I find this very amusing, where was AFACT and co in the mid 90’s when people would record a show in the US then post it to friends/family in Aust for them to copy/distribute while everyone else waited years for the tv channels to maybe televise the program

  17. I just got sick of watching shows where the station decided to screw around with the programming.
    They change the time, then they change the day, then it’s on at a “special time”, seriously, what’s so fn special about putting it on two hours later than usual?. Also, in the past if it was a popular program they start playing new episodes every second week with the old episodes mixed in which just drove me nuts.

    Now days if they screw with the programming I just stop watching all together. If I like the show I wait until it is released on DVD.

    NB: Dollhouse (Joss Whedon) which only just started playing over here was already cancelled two years ago after only two seasons. I got it on DVD (purchased online less than 12hrs before I first saw the ad for it on TV) this week and so far I think it is pretty good. I can’t understand why it wasn’t shown here when they were making it.

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