'Game of Thrones' piracy is rampant, but UK TV smashes records too

Whether they're tuning in as it airs or grabbing a copy via their favourite file-sharing site, people just can't get enough of Game of Thrones. The fifth season has only just drawn to a close, but during its run, the HBO fantasy series managed to smash its own piracy records and break a few broadcast milestones too. In fact, the season finale became the most popular "entertainment programme ever" on Sky, reaching a record 3.1 million homes on June 15th.

Mirroring the premiere earlier this year, Sky broadcast the final episode of Game of Thrones twice in the same day. The first airing was a 2am simulcast, which matched the HBO broadcast in the US, and a 9pm showing later that day. Sky says that if it accounted for Sky GO and Now TV broadcasts, the total number of viewers would be even higher.

It's a good omen for HBO and Sky. As consumers become more web-savvy, it's easier to watch Game of Thrones online without having to pay for a subscription. The simulcasts help to a point, as they eliminate the wait, but the large majority of viewers don't care to wait until the early hours to watch something that will reach file-sharing sites a few hours later. It shows that more viewers (with Sky at least) prefer the traditional TV time slot, something that on-demand services simply can't replicate.