Argh! Pirates love HBO's Game of Thrones.
Seriously. They downloaded the show's season 3 finale 5.9 million times, according to Variety, which cited compiled data from piracy news site TorrentFreak. That means Game of Thrones was the most pirated show on television...for two years in a row.
AMC's Breaking Bad grabbed the No.2 spot, thanks to 4.2 million downloads for the series finale, and the network's other popular show, The Walking Dead, landed in third place with 3.6 million downloads for an undisclosed episode. Other shows on the list include The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, Suits, Homeland, Vikings, and Arrow, in consecutive order.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes claimed last summer that rampant piracy of Game of Thrones was "better than an Emmy," and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan similarly admitted piracy was a brand-booster. However, Gale Anne Hurdy, a producer for The Walking Dead, thinks differently about the illegal practice.
"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,” said Hurd earlier this month while at the Variety Content Protection Summit.
TorrentFreak tracked piracy across the globe in 2013 using data from several sources, including download statistics reported by BitTorrent's file-sharing protocol. The site's annual list does not include downloads from cyborlocker and other streaming sites though, because they don't publicise piracy data.