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The Grand Tour is “the most illegally downloaded programme ever,” according to new data from an anti-piracy firm.

The first episode, which we reviewed very positively, garnered 7.9 million downloads; episode two was picked up 6.4 million times; and the third ep was pilfered by 4.6 million people.

Amazon’s new motoring show apparently even beats out HBO’s Game of Thrones, which has been the most pirated TV show for the last few years.
These figures were handed to the Daily Mail from Muso, an anti-piracy firm that may or may not be angling to pick up Amazon as a client. While Muso doesn’t say how it derived those Grand Tour download figures, they’re about in-line with previous analyses of the scale of BitTorrent downloads.
I think Muso is mistaken when it says The Grand Tour is “the most illegally downloaded programme ever,” though, unless it’s using some particularly creative accounting methods.

Last year TorrentFreak estimated that the season finale of Game of Thrones was downloaded 14.4 million times via BitTorrent, and all signs point to GoT increasing in popularity in 2016. Our own analysis mostly tallies with that of TorrentFreak, too. How did Muso arrive at that figure of 7.9 million, then, and why was that enough for Grand Tour to steal the illustrious “most downloaded” mantle from Game of Thrones? Sadly, Muso didn’t provide its methodology. We’ve asked the company for more details, and will update this story if it responds.

Muso’s figures are further confused by a comment from its chief commercial officer, which said that 7.9 million was the total “across different platforms.” Does that mean that Muso has somehow managed to tabulate how many people are watching The Grand Tour on copyright-infringing streaming TV sites or downloading it from file-hosting sites? GoT‘s 14.4 million downloads was via BitTorrent alone; add the other platforms and the figure will be much larger. (We don’t know how much larger, but 20+ million is likely.)

Even if Grand Tour isn’t the most downloaded show ever, our own analysis shows that it has been very popular on torrent sites and undoubtedly on streaming and file-sharing sites as well. Pirates love the show for two reasons: a) Clarkson, Hammond, and May are very popular; and b) The Grand Tour is exclusively available for Amazon Prime subscribers in just a small handful of countries, including the UK, US, Japan, and Germany.
Amazon has never broken out its Prime subscriber numbers, but analysts peg it around 60 to 65 million worldwide.

Amazon says The Grand Tour will be available in 200 countries by the end of December, presumably via some other means than Prime, but for now there are millions of fans who can only obtain the show via unofficial means. By way of comparison, HBO has about 140 million subscribers worldwide (and Game of Thrones is available on other channels such as Sky Atlantic), and Netflix has about 90 million.
Amazon, which in its 22-year history has never revealed more data than it absolutely has to, also hasn’t announced the official viewer figures for The Grand Tour on Prime Video, so we can’t even attempt to analyse the show’s relative piracy level versus Game of Thrones.

Amusingly, even Clarkson, Hammond, and May haven’t been told how popular their own show is.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK

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