The series finale of fantasy epic Game of Thrones has set the record for the highest number of times a television show has been illegally downloaded within 24 hours of broadcast.

The TorrentFreak blog said about 170,000 people were simultaneously sharing the last episode of the show’s third series, and more than a million downloads were completed in the 24 hours after it was first broadcast. Australia had the most shares followed by the US, Canada and the UK.

The series, created by the US network HBO and available on pay-TV channels across the world, has regularly broke records for downloads over the internet.

A HBO spokesman said the new record was “a compliment of sorts”.

Cultural buzz

However Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays the character Jaime Lannister, said it was tantamount to “stealing”.

He told the BBC that "It's funny because there is a little part of you that goes, 'Yeah. We're the most pirated show.' Then you think, 'That's really bad isn't it?”

"What you hope is that even though people watch it online, they will still buy the DVD. You can always hope.

According to TorrentFreak the number of downloads could increase to more than five million in the coming weeks.

The show’s director David Petrarca said a “cultural buzz” surrounding the show could only help its popularity whether it came from television viewing figures or the number of illegal downloads.  

Based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling series of novels, the violent epic fantasy takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos at the end of a decade-long summer, pitting two warring families against each other.

The show has already been commissioned for a fourth series in 2014.

Source: Al Jazeera