It depends on who you ask

Four episodes into its first season on Amazon, The Grand Tour is already breaking records and making history. That’s what you come to expect from a show that has a budget north of $160 million, but at least one of these records is something the show wants no part of.

Move over, Game of Thrones, because The Grand Tour has just become the most illegally downloaded TV program in history. Or has it?

The auspicious figures were brought to light by MUSO, a leading data analyst of the piracy market, which disclosed that the show’s first episode was downloaded illegally an incredible 7.9 million times. Episode’s 2 and 3 didn’t approach those numbers, but they were still ripped off 6.4 million and 4.6 million times, respectively. Not surprisingly, the British market made up the largest percentage of culprits, accounting for 13.7 percent of the overall total.

It’s a staggering total that a lot of media outlets are running with, and it certainly speaks to the kind of cult-like following that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have fostered over their years on Top Gear.

But did it really beat out Game of Thrones as the most illegally downloaded TV program ever? The short and somewhat vague answer is, “it depends on your criteria.”

On a per-episode total, it appears that Jon Snow and company still have the edge over Clarkson and the boys. According to Independent, the first four episodes of GOT’s fifth season were illegally downloaded 32 million times, with the first episode alone contributing 13 million illegal downloads of that total. That number was soon upended by the season finale of the same season – the one where Jon Snow “dies” – with an insane 14.4 million illegal downloads, as per TorrentFreak.

It’s worth noting that none of the analysts that have made these estimates about the illegal downloads of Game of Thrones episodes cited the methodologies they used to track and arrive at those numbers. By contrast, MUSO says that it uses a software that trawls the internet for keywords to identify piracy sites and then analyzes what certain people have watched using those sites.

That’s how they arrived at The Grand Tour’s illegal download figures, something that MUSO chief commercial officer Chris Elkins described as “absolutely incredible,” before adding that it has “overtaken every big show, including Game of Thrones, for the totals across different platforms.”

Regardless of the total and who holds the record over the other, there’s a good chance that neither HBO nor Amazon are inclined to take ownership of it, preferring instead for the other to hold the title.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

It’s a bigger problem than records

It is pretty amusing to see fans of both The Grand Tour and Game of Thrones take pride in their shows holding the claim for being “the most illegally downloaded show in TV history.” In some ways, I suppose it is a measure of a show’s popularity that so many people resort to downloading them illegally just to watch them so there is a point of pride there, even if it’s ultimately misguided and detrimental to the shows themselves.

In the end though, does it really matter who holds the record here? The far more important revelation surrounding the number of people watching The Grand Tour illegally is the rampant video piracy that’s still plaguing the world today.

Not only is it a horrible way to watch shows, it’s actually a form of theft, something that a lot of these people either don’t mind participating in or are not even aware of in the first place. Take the first episode of The Grand Tour for example. According to reports, Amazon lost revenue in the amount of £3.2 million ($4.06 million) as a result of the illegal downloads on that episode alone.

That’s something that should be curbed because these studios pay ridiculous sums of money to get these shows to air, only for their revenues to get chop-blocked by people who are too cheap to watch the shows legally.

Granted, access to The Grand Tour is still limited at this point since Amazon’s streaming service is not yet available in other markets. But that’s not a reason for people to commit crime because at the end of the day, piracy is stealing and stealing is a crime.

Like I said, neither HBO nor Amazon care about who owns this record. In a perfect world, this “record” shouldn’t even exist. But that’s what the world has become now. Everybody’s in it for themselves, and for as long as there are people who are going to take shortcuts in accessing shows through means that they’re not supposed to, there’s going to be more of this talk in the future.

Source: The Guardian

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