Game of Thrones, the David Benoiff and D.B. Weiss show created for HBO, once again topped the list of the most illegally downloaded shows for 2013 via BitTorrent. Based on data, this George R.R. Martin’s adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels got 5.9 million downloads for a TV show, beating by a wide margin its nearest competition for the second year in a row.
The win is no longer a surprise since the TV show has already breached two piracy records this year. The first one happened mid-year when the show was shared over a million times. However, with the data gathered by TorrentFreak, the last episode of season three, or the Red Wedding episode, had been downloaded a million times 24 hours after it was shown. At that rate, it was estimated that it reached to as high as five million downloads in the weeks that followed. This means that on the average, 170,000 people shared a copy of the episode concurrently.
Analysts stated that HBO is to be blamed for the massive unauthorized downloads of the Game of Thrones. The network still sticks to its policy of making the show “exclusive” to the point that even Netflix, a provider of on-demand internet streaming media, was not able to convince HBO to buy the rights, even at attractive price offers.
It was also learned that this fame among online users is not a major concern of the show’s executives. David Petrarca, a director of the Game of Thrones, said that this attention from online users is actually good in order to generate “cultural buzz” for the show.
The CEO of Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, Jeff Bewkes mentioned that the title of the “most pirated” is “…better than an Emmy.” However, with regard to this opinion by Bewkes, the executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” Gale Anne Hurd said that illegal downloads are not necessarily good and beneficial to the show itself.
Hurd said that people who regularly download shows illegally will not develop habits that will allow them to download shows legally thereafter. She cited the example of the premier of The Walking Dead this year where the producers decided to stream the show for free. Despite this fact, the show was still illegally downloaded by online users in the U.S.
Rounding off this year’s ten most illegally downloaded shows are: Breaking Bad (4.2 million downloads), The Walking Dead (3.6 million), The Big Bang Theory (3.4 million), Dexter (3.1 million), How I Met Your Mother (3 million), Suits (2.6 million), Homeland (2.4 million), Vikings (2.3 million) and Arrow (2.2 million).
After the show topped the most downloaded show in 2012 for the first time, Michael Lombardo the HBO programming president said that this is sort of a compliment. “[Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
Last September, Kelly Merryman, Netflix VP of Content Acquisition, mentioned that piracy was a useful way for a company to monitor a show’s performance. This is a method for Netflix to determine what series or shows to buy.
With the recent Game of Thrones tag as 2013’s most illegally downloaded show, it is expected that its ratings will continue to soar with the coming release of future episodes.
By Roberto I. Belda