‘Game of Thrones’ Is Most-Pirated Show of 2014 (Full Top 10 List)
For the third straight year, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show on TV.
The HBO hit is insanely popular among legal viewers, but this latest data by TorrentFreak.com, which compiles a comprehensive listing of the most-downloaded TV shows on illegal file-sharing torrent sites around the world, reveals that more people downloaded the 2014 finale than actually tuned in to watch it legally on HBO.
At No. 2 was cable TV’s most popular show, The Walking Dead. However, while it easily trumps Game of Thrones in the ratings (due to far fewer households having HBO than AMC), it was a distant No. 2 in the piracy department.
Of course, there is a very real likelihood that piracy is higher than even the TorrentFreak list suggests, since not every available form of piracy has been tracked, such as live streaming, or episodes being hosted for streaming after the fact. If nothing else, piracy can do considerable damage to a show, since it means viewers aren’t watching live in real time. Fewer legal viewers means lower ratings, and increased likelihood of cancellation. So the TV industry is understandably concerned, even if fans are some of these shows aren’t (to be fair, neither Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead is at any risk of cancellation whatsoever. But then again, believing so to justify piracy is a slippery slope).
Another argument, as you’ll see in the Top 10 list below, is that for many of the top shows on the list, piracy represents only a fraction of the overall viewership, since a show like The Walking Dead still peaked at 16.29 million viewers for the season despite 4.8 million illegal downloads. Realistically, those 4.8 million downloads could be motivated by any number of factors: it could represent people who either saw it live and wanted a copy in 1080p for posterity, or people who simply wouldn’t have watched it live anyway had they been unable to download it. It could even be people who’d never seen the show opting to give it a look. So that number of illegal downloads might not represent as significant an amount of damage to the overall viewership as it might seem. Granted, it’s not good either, but I don’t think AMC views this as the end of the world. HBO, on the other hand, is in a different boat, since illegal views exceed the legal viewership for Game of Thrones.
Naturally, HBO is looking to curb piracy this year by offering a standalone streaming service in 2015, allowing users to have legal access to HBO without a cable subscription. And not a moment too soon, since fans have been vocal about how unfortunate it is that Game of Thrones isn’t available for purchase through legal means in real time, like with any number of shows you’d be able to catch up on through iTunes, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Netflix or through any other services people subscribe to in lieu of cable these days. To watch it legally without an HBO subscription, viewers often had to wait until the DVDs were released, long after the season had aired. In short, there’s no reason this standalone service shouldn’t be a massive smash hit for HBO, unless piracy is less a matter of inability to purchase legally, and more about the preference for not paying at all. Either way, a lot of shows — from huge hits to modest performers — have landed in this year’s Top 10.
Check out the Top 10 illegally downloaded shows below:
THE TOP 10 MOST PIRATED TV SHOWS OF 2014
1. Game of Thrones (8.1 million downloads, 7.1 million TV viewers)
2. The Walking Dead (4.8 million downloads, 16.29 million TV viewers)
3. The Big Bang Theory (3.8 million downloads, 18.24 million TV viewers)
4. How I Met Your Mother (3.5 million downloads, 12.13 million TV viewers)
5. Gotham (3.2 million downloads, 11.81 million TV viewers)
6. Arrow (2.9 million downloads, 3.92 million TV viewers)
7. Grey’s Anatomy (2.8 million downloads, 9.81 million TV viewers)
8. Vikings (2.7 million downloads, 3.56 million TV viewers)
9. Suits (2.5 million downloads, 2.80 million TV viewers)
10. South Park (2.4 million downloads, 2.40 million TV viewers)