With another year passing, it is time once more in the TV industry to look back on the previous 12 months and provide the world with statistics on what show was the most popular, and research from TorrentFreak has shown that once more, where online piracy is concerned at least, that crown goes to HBO’s premium fantasy drama series Game of Thrones.
Taking the ‘honor’ for the second year in succession, it was found that the show managed to attract more viewers through pirated downloads (5.9m) for their season 3 finale than the total that actually watched live on the high-cost cable network (5.4m), a figure unlikely to have had much crossover due to the HBO Go catch-up platform available to all subscribers rather than them needing to download in order to watch again.
It was another season finale that helped a fellow cable show take home the second place prize of most pirated series, with the season 5 closure of AMC black comedy program Breaking Bad attracting 4.2m downloads, compared with 10.28m TV viewers on average through the season.
Whilst HBO have expressed a sort of pride at their total (due to having the most popular show, which in turn has had a positive effect on subscription numbers due to the exposure to the format), 3rd-placed show The Walking Dead‘s executive producer Gale Anne Hurd took the more expected network view, stating: “There’s a mistaken belief by many of my peers that piracy is somehow good, that viewers will develop a habit to pay for it. I’m not sure they really understand other than anecdotal evidence that their ratings go up that the people who pirate are not then going to choose legal downloads or legal viewing in the future.”
Our take on piracy is that until content providers give viewers easy, quick and cheap access to content, just like Netflix do, then it will continue to rise. Why would someone who wants to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad wait until it arrives on Netflix, when it is sitting on a torrent site ready to watch in a couple of clicks?
Game of Thrones can only be accessed by cable subscribers with HBO Go. If the networks catch up with reality and provide content online soon after airing at a good price (maybe sell Netflix the streaming rights?) then the problem will go. Until then we will see this list year after year, as even with the anti-piracy measures being enforced there will always be ways of accessing pirated content.
The ranking of the top 10 shows in full, alongside their ‘most downloaded individual episode’ by which they were ranked, are summarized below. With Breaking Bad (and Dexter) more than likely to be out of the equation next year, what are the prospects of a new contender staking a claim for the semi-undesirable throne?
1. Game of Thrones (HBO, 5.9 million)
2. Breaking Bad (AMC, 4.2 million)
3. The Walking Dead (AMC, 3.6 million)
4. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 3.4 million)
5. Dexter (Showtime, 3.1 million)
6. How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 3 million)
7. Suits (USA Network, 2.6 million)
8. Homeland (Showtime, 2.4 million)
9. Vikings (History Channel, 2.3 million)
10. Arrow (The CW, 2.2 million)
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