A new record set, after HBO confirmed a record 17.4 million legal viewers tuned in for the first installment of the new series.

After a 20 month wait, fans were finally able to begin their watch of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. But not everyone was able to access the show legally, and the numbers are somewhat overwhelming.

In just 24 hours, the episode was downloaded illegally nearly 55 million times - the digital piracy firm MUSO said the number of downloads reached record-breaking numbers, citing 54,261,910 illegal downloads worldwide. Around 77 percent of these were down to streaming.

In comparison, HBO, the production company and television network which owns the series, announced record numbers of 17.4 million viewers.

Game of Thrones is one of the most successful TV series in the world. The New York Times estimated that HBO made around a billion dollars from the series in 2017.However, the lack of availability around the world is said to have boosted piracy in relation to the series, particularly in Asia. India led the way in terms of illegal downloads with around 10 million, with China in second place with 5 million, and the US in third with 4 million.