As the viewing public become more and more engrossed by high quality TV, it seems every new series put out by the likes of HBO and AMC are exponentially hyped. The fourth season of 'Game of Thrones' was no different; like with True Detective, it broke HBO’s online player, while managing to become both a huge ratings win for the network and being downloaded over a million times.

Peter Dinklage Game of ThronesPeter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'

The premiere of Game of Thrones’s fourth season also handed HBO its top ratings since The Sopranos finale, with an average of 6.6 million tuning in for the hit fantasy drama. The infamous drama drew 11.9 million viewers for its highly controversial final episode back in 2007. 

The irony of being both hugely successful with paying customers and providing ample content for what are essentially online thieves is palpable; GoT was 2013’s most-downloaded show, with audiences keen to watch the latest chapter in HBO’s fantasy drama before spoilers are released. And it looks set to claim that unwanted mantle again in 2014. 

TorrentFreak usually have the data to hand – they’re the ones who let us know GoT was the most popular show of 2013 for torrenting, and they also let the Internet in on a little secret: Australia is currently harbouring the biggest population of torrenters, with 11.6% of the total stemming from there. 3.2% of that comes from Melbourne alone.

Emilia ClarkeEmilia Clarke in 'Game of Thrones'

And, according to them, over 300,000 people were sharing one of the three most popular GoT torrents at once, and over 140,000 of those were using the same torrent. That basically means 140,000 people were using the same file, a copy of Game of Thrones, probably in .MP4 format, meaning they could easily watch it via an Xbox or TV with USB attachment if they wanted to achieve the same comfort as those filthy rich HBO subs. 

This is something HBO need to harness, somehow. People illegally downloading the show will always happen as long as there are people that know how, but within the demographic of people who would rather risk a court date or a fine than subscribe to HBO, there are many who will buy the DVD anyway, and there are many who will turn others on to watching the show through sheer lyrical waxing.

What do you think; how could HBO use torrent sites to their advantage? Should we be worried about the TV and film industry at all?

Watch 'Game of Thrones' actress Emilia Clarke on the red-carpet: