S4 finale of Game of Thrones breaks its own piracy record

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Jun 18, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT (Updated)

Millions of people are watching the blood-soaked HBO show Game of Thrones, an hour of television so violent that sudden death is part of the entertainment. But not everyone who watches it actually pays for it: As we know, the series is one of the most pirated shows of all time. And now, with the latest news, we know it's even more pirated than that.

The season-four finale of Game of Thrones smashed its own piracy record, or as TorrentFreak put it, "The latest episode resulted in the largest BitTorrent swarm ever." Specifically, "254,114 people were sharing one single torrent at the same time. 190,701 were sharing a complete copy of that particular torrent while 63,413 were still downloading." 

That's a lot of downloading, which means, according to the L.A. Times, "In the 12 hours following the show's Sunday night debut, 1.5 million people downloaded pirated versions of the episode through various sites. It's expected that number will grow to 7.5 million in the coming days and weeks."  

Previously, the most pirated show was Game of Thrones' season-three finale, which was downloaded through BitTorrent 5.9 million times.

Even Game of Thrones' non-pirated viewings continue to impress. According to Variety, the finale, "The Children," averaged 7.1 million viewers. (Last week's episode had 6.95 million viewers.) Variety wrote, "It was up a big 32% from last year’s finale (5.39 million) and more than doubled its first-season finale (3.04 million in 2011)."

However, "The Children" was not the show's most-watched episode. That honor belongs to "Mockingbird," which [SPOILER ALERT] saw Petyr Baelish toss Lysa Arryn out the moondoor. That, and Tyrion's scramble to find a champion, was seen by 7.2 million viewers.

Ultimately, what do these numbers mean to Game of Thrones fans? It means that the more the ratings change for the better, the more HBO's commitment to giving us high-quality entertainment will stay the same.