In a nutshell: While not a widespread phenomenon anymore, piracy continues to drive a significant amount of Internet traffic around the world. TV shows like House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings are particularly popular, even though the former seems to be way more interesting for P2P pirates.
House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are the two great powerhouses of modern TV fantasy drama. Both shows have amassed a remarkable amount of viewers on legit streaming platforms, but the pirate underground seems to have a particular liking for HBO's dragons-filled production.
According to official and not-so official numbers, House of the Dragon is averaging 29 million viewers per episode. Amazon hasn't offered much data about the LotR prequel, but the company previously stated the show's premiere was watched by 25 million fans. Trying to rate how the two shows compared in BitTorrent downloads, TorrentFreak has partnered with I Know to look at a large sample of transfers on the P2P network over a couple of weeks (September 7-21).
According to the numbers provided by I Know, House of the Dragon wins pirate users' favor by a very wide margin: in the given timeframe, the GoT prequel saw more than 1.4 million estimated downloads on peak days. In total, HotD amassed over nine million downloads in two weeks.
Compared to HotD, The Rings of Power doesn't seem to excite BitTorrent users that much. Amazon's billion-dollar production collected a total of 650k estimated downloads, beating HotD by a small margin shorty after a new episode was released and collecting a total of five million downloads.
As for the countries with the most House of the Dragon downloads, the data sampled by I Know shows that Russia is in the lead. It's a sign of the times, considering how much Russian users are cut off from access to legal services as a result of international sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. HotD pirate downloads are also rather popular in Brazil, the US, India, the UK, South Africa, China, Philippines, Australia and France.
TorrentFreak highlights how public torrent downloads are just a small fraction of the entire piracy activity nowadays, as most users have switched from peer-to-peer sharing to streaming sites whose activity cannot be measured so easily. Rating HotD popularity is an interesting exercise anyway, as Game of Thrones was the most torrent-shared TV show of the past years.