Game of Thrones has taken the, ahem, throne (for the second year in a row) on the list of the year’s most pirated television programs. According to TorrentFreak, 5.9 million people downloaded the final episode of its third season – slightly more than the 5.5 million viewers who tuned it to watch the aftermath in the wake of the much-hyped “Red Wedding” episode. This is not that surprising, considering that many fans of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series and the show they inspired likely cannot afford HBO.
Breaking Bad came in a distant second, with 4.2 million viewers watching the series finale from an illegal download (although that is far fewer than the 10.3 million who caught in on AMC). Rounding out the top five is The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory and Dexter.
The list of highly downloaded shows always bring forward arguments for and against piracy. While Hollywood movie studios have been losing the war against piracy for many years, a healthy box office in 2013 (which will slightly eclipse 2012’s total revenue) and growing foreign markets have quelled some of the furor around illegal downloading.
On the other hand, with the dominant rise of cable television and a wider variety of quality programming than ever before – some of which comes from expensive cable channels – it is up to question whether or not television studios are struggling due to piracy. Does illegal downloading help create a boon of greater fan interest that can drive larger brand awareness, merchandise and potential DVD sales? Or, does it defeat the purpose of paying for that quality television in the first place if one can attain episodes for free?
Whether or not piracy is helping or hindering television today, it is interesting to note that among some of the year’s 10 most pirated TV shows are those readily available to watch (or watch on demand) on network television. Alongside cable hits like Homeland and Dexter, which require a subscription, there are programs like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.
You can check out TorrentFreak’s full list below. Then, head down to the comments and share your thoughts.
Source: The Playlist