MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

'Game of Thrones' is 2012's most pirated show

HBO fantasy drama tops list that includes 'Dexter,' 'Big Bang Theory' and 'Breaking Bad'

By Mekeisha Madden Toby Dec 27, 2012 2:32PM

'Game of Thrones' '/' HBO

The web pirates have spoken, and the show they most like to download illegally is -- drum roll, please -- HBO's "Game of Thrones."


A single episode of the hit HBO drama was downloaded 4.28 million times, making it the most pirated TV series of 2012, according to the blog TorrentFreak. In comparison, the Season 2 finale -- the show's highest rated TV installment -- drew 4.2 million viewers. "Game of Thrones" is, of course, the premium cable provider's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, "A Song of Ice and Fire."


Bing: More on 'Games of Thrones' | George R.R. Martin


Not surprisingly, more than 80 percent of TV piracy occurs outside the United States with a lack of availability being the top reason people steal shows. For instance, more than 10 percent of the total pirated downloads for the Season 2 finale were in Australia, where there is a one-week delay.


Plus: TV characters we lost in 2012 |  Most memorable TV moments of 2012


The second most pirated show is Showtime's "Dexter" with 3.85 million downloads, topping the 2.75 million subscribers who watch it legally. Last year, "Dexter" was the most pirated show on the web.


Rounding out the top five are "The Big Bang Theory" (3.2 million) at No. 3, "How I Met Your Mother" (2.96 million) at No. 4 and "Breaking Bad" (2.58 million) at No. 5. AMC's "The Walking Dead" is No. 6 with 2.55 million while NBC's "Revolution," the only freshman program on the list, placed 10th with 2.13 million. Click here for a complete list.


The U.S. had the second-highest number of illegal downloads behind Australia, but that only accounted for 9.7 percent. The other three countries in the top five are Canada (7.7 percent), the U.K. (7.6 percent) and the Netherlands (4.4 percent).


As TorrentFreak pointed out, such pirated numbers are good and bad news for HBO, which now has the unique challenge of creating a business model that will allow users to watch what they want at any given time -- such as an independent HBO GO subscription -- without losing revenue.


"Game of Thrones" Season 3 premieres Sunday, March 31, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

Dec 28, 2012 7:25PM
So -- why do they think 4.28 million Game of Thrones downloads represents piracy? What counts as a download? I've re-viewed several episodes on HBO GO (especially Battle of the Blackwater which was written by GRRM himself). That is entirely legal since I'm a paid subscriber. The 4.2 million people who watched the episode may all have viewed it again, quite legally, some of them more than once. Considering the abysmal quality of the alternatives, that makes a lot of sense to me.
Dec 27, 2012 7:38PM
why are the CBS shows pirated? They are available for free from the CBS website the next day.
Dec 27, 2012 6:47PM
Partly because GoT is a world-wide hit and many countries either do not receive HBO at all or it is delayed months to even a year. The Song of Ice and Fire series has been translated into numerous languages and is definitely world-wide. Few of the other shows have such a huge fan base!
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