Game of Thrones, Arrow, Big Bang Theory and Suits Among Most Pirated TV Shows of 2013

Game of Thrones Most PiratedFor a second consecutive year, HBO’s Game of Thrones — specifically, its Season 3 finale — carried the dubious honor of being the most pirated TV show, TorrentFreak reports, with 5.9 million downloads.

The same episode amassed 6.2 million total viewers the night of June 2, via the old-fashioned way — broadcasts on HBO.

RELATED | 2013 in Review: Game of Thrones Delivers the Year’s Most Horrifying Sequence

Breaking Bad‘s series finale placed second with 4.2 million downloads, followed by an episode of The Walking Dead (3.6 mil).

RELATED | 2013 in Review: What Edged Out Breaking Bad as the Year’s Best Drama?

The Big Bang Theory (3.4 mil) and How I Met Your Mother (3 mil) were the only comedies to crack the Top 10, placing fourth and sixth. Dexter was sandwiched between them with 3.1 mil.

Filling the No. 7 through 10 spots were Suits (2.6 mil), Homeland (2.4 mil), Vikings (2.3 mil) and Arrow (2.2 mil).

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36 Comments
  1. Lysh says:

    Curious that anything on network tv is pirated. I d

    • Lysh says:

      Oops, posted early. Anyways, cable is expensive. Anything on cable that’s not on netflix yet or I don’t want to buy a season pass for is the only shows that tempt me to pirate. Arrr.

      • Stormy says:

        I’m in no hurry. In as little as 3 months after it airs, it’s out on DVD and I get it from the library and keep it for a week. Freebie!

      • Esaul says:

        Then that’s a great way to show support for the shows you care about. Purchasing passes and watching them live helps shows continue. The more people pirate the less money the shows make. I read last year about Game of Thrones and how if more people bought just even a single episode, they could do even more with it.

        • Chuck Finley says:

          Yeah don’t fall for that line from HBO. They make PLENTY of money. If they wanted to throw more money at the show they could. Besides, a large chunk of illegal downloads are from the international audience, many of whom have no access to the show other than waiting for a DVD. Even iTunes doesn’t make every show available in every country. And HBO shows don’t usually hit iTunes for almost a year after they air anyway. HBO is making plenty.

          • I’d add that HBO doesn’t do anyone any favors by having their 10 episode blu-ray sets list for $80. $8 per episode. It’s $40-50 on Amazon, but forget about shopping at Best Buy.

          • Esaul says:

            And do you think downloading shows illegally contributes to it in any manner? If so please indulge me.

      • Kim (@AD76) says:

        I live in the U.S., don’t have a DVR or VCR’s hooked up. Don’t want to pay fees for Hulu or NetFlix. I do what I gotta do when I miss a show or there’s two on at the same time.

    • Cesar88 says:

      You clearly live in the US.

  2. Sam says:

    Besides The Walking Dead and the CBS comedies, I’ve contributed to all of these shows being pirated. Thanks Pirate Bay!

  3. Pix says:

    Most people don’t pirate simply because they don’t want to pay, they pirate because they don’t want to wait just because they don’t live in the US! The discussion on the internet and everything else surrounding the show that adds so much to the watching experience, won’t wait for them:P Just because the broadcasters choose to pretend there are still borders in the era of Internet and common access to information, doesn’t mean the users have to agree.
    Geoblock all you want, people will still get their shows whenever they want to;)

    • Coco says:

      I completely agree. Add to the waiting period the synchronization and you know why most of these series get pirated. I myself try to watch everything in OV, so there’s really nothing else you can do if your country doesn’t even have netflix or hulu… I would pay for it, but they don’t even give me the chance to do it. And waiting for the DVD takes away the gossip fun around it…

    • Apples says:

      I agree. I pay to buy DVDs and stuff, so it isn’t a question of the money, but living outside the US, it is very difficult to wait for shows to air locally before catching up if you maintain an online presence.
      .
      I can’t wait for netflix to expand internationally more as well.

    • sara says:

      Pretty much. When things like Doctor Who air on the same day, I don’t need to download. But there’s no way if I was a fan of Downton Abbey I’d wait months later for it to air in the US when the conversation is happening the night of/day after.

    • I was just talking with a French friend and she just told me that the last season of Fringe hadn’t even aired there yet. There’s almost always a long delay, plus they inexplicably dub usually bad French acting over the original. Who wants to deal with that?

  4. Chuck Finley says:

    I plunk down 200 bucks a month for cable and internet so I have zero guilt downloading tv shows. I paid for it and the crap DVR service offered by Time Warner, which I also pay for, doesn’t always allow me to get all the shows I want. Movies are another matter. If I didn’t pay for cable I would probably feel bad about downloading shows.

  5. Brad says:

    I don’t own a tv. I pay for hulu and Netflix. But if I can’t wait for a show to be uploaded on Hulu, I do watch it illegally

  6. Nichole says:

    I live in Australia and if we are lucky, some of the American free to air stuff gets “fast tracked” to here, which means it will view within a week of it showing in America, but that’s only the most popular shows that are several seasons in. Others that do make it here take about 6mths from airing in the US, by which time they are often cancelled if new shows :P.

    The rest of free to air and some cable stuff can be found, again usually well after viewing in America, on the one cable network we have – Foxtel. As I don’t live in a major inner city with cables, it’s satellite here, which with equipment and installation costs is $150 just to connect. The usage package that will get me HBO and other cable is $75 per month and has only 48 channels, mostly of things they play on repeat for the last 5 years.

    Netflix isn’t in Australia at the moment and not likely to be in the near future after a failed attempt last year to get things in motion. There is little to no on demand viewing unless you have internet with the main Telco here and that’s limited also. Amazon Prime, Hulu and such are not available here, neither is viewing on the web view the network or cable shows web site. Even a lot of previews posted on TVLine are not viewable outside of the US.

    Tell me, why wouldn’t I download shows then to be able to get a broader variety and keep up to date on things I like?? I’m on a disability pension and am basically bed bound, there are only so many FB games one can play before going nuts, so without downloading, my life would be very very boring!!

    • Amy says:

      As a fellow Australian, I’ll also add that it’s also about wanting to see the complete, unedited version of a show. I’ll give the the US version of The Bachelor/ette as an example – two hours (with ads) run time in the US, they sliced it down to a one hour when airing here. The Simpsons was sanitised for years too, taking out ‘inappropriate’ material.
      Even with the crashing exchange rate, I still wish US distributors would just take my money and let me stream directly from the US website.

      • Raven says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

      • shellinKL says:

        Such a true statement…. I would seriously pay the iTunes fees etc …. It’s sooooo not about the money

      • Ed says:

        As an American, I download overseas shows such as Rake, Puberty Blues, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and a lot of UK and NZ shows. I have already watched the new season on Downton Abbey and it won’t be broadcast here for another weak.

        Plus I hate watching commercials. ;)

  7. Only good news here is, if I’m remembering data that was crunched last year (though like any statistic related to piracy hard to say how accurate it is something like 60% or pirates are likely to buy the DVDs of cable shows they pirate, or at least have a Netflix account.

  8. meatwad says:

    I would say these numbers are conservative. I’d multiply most of these by two and the most popular shows by three

  9. Britta Unfiltered says:

    In this world of online spoilers, it is a dangerous thing to wait for DVDs to come out. Many cable shows won’t even release a season on DVD until a few weeks before the next season is about to air. I also think there is a huge trend of putting major plot twists into shows now in an effort to force people to pay for cable and watch shows live. I’m an idiot who pays for cable and DVR because I’m terrified of spoilers. But DVR doesn’t catch everything, particularly on those crowded Sunday nights. And then there are those pesky pay channels…you do what you gotta do. I’m not saying it’s the best way to support the shows you love, but I do agree that cable has become ridiculously expensive. I grew up in the 80s and we only ever just had bunny ears for our TV. Which was fine, because all the best shows were on networks. It’s not like that anymore. All the best stuff is on cable, where companies like Comcast will charge close to $200 a month to give you cable, internet, and phone. It’s quite a racket. One day I’ll get brave and cut the cord.

  10. CJ says:

    Arrow is almost falling out of the list, and its on 10th place.

    How does it deserve to be mentioned in the headline.

  11. kirads09 says:

    I don’t have cable or satellite. GoT is the only show on HBO that I can’t live without. I am one of those who would give her right arm if HBO would make HBOGo a stand alone subscription service. Maybe then they would be making even more $ from GoT and less pirating – ya think? Also the release of the DVD’s at about the pace Martin is finishing the books is torture. HBO you have a HUGE hit show – why not give the fans a little something here?

    • lindick says:

      TOTALLY agree!
      I think they’re trying to use the popularity of GoT to boost their other programming, but it’s sooo annoying that it’s not easier to access it.

  12. Anna says:

    On the one hand, I understand that downloading stuff illegally is bad but on the other hand, a purely hypothetical person might live in another country, say Germany, and there is only so much you can do to watch American (or British) TV in that country. It sometimes takes years (!) for a show to be broadcast in Germany, because every show is dubbed and that takes some time and because the German networks suck. Also, there is no netflix here (yet), so even if you wanted to pay for a show, you couldn’t. You also cannot buy an episode on neither amazon nor itunes. While you could pay for Sky, which shows a lot of stuff fast(ish), they don’t show everything. So really, downloading the episodes as they air and eventually buying the DVDs when they come (usually a year or so after they come out in the US) is the only option left if you don’t wanna be spoiled by the internet…

  13. Laura says:

    I am totally sympathetic of the international people — it is super frustrating to have limited options because you live outside the U.S. But as for people saying “I pay Time Warner, Hulu and Netflix, so I feel like it’s fine to pirate other shows”…I mean, yes, I totally get it, those things are all expensive. But that money isn’t going directly to any tv shows, you know that, right? Until Nielsen ratings take into account Hulu, On Demand, and DVR viewings, if there’s a show that you like and you want it to stay on air, you have to watch it live to support it. I feel like it’s justified if it’s a show that is doing just fine (e.g. Game of Thrones or Big Bang Theory), but for shows with small viewerships on cable, I really worry that they’ll go the same path of so many of my favorite shows (Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, Party Down, Veronica Mars, etc. etc.) if not enough people watch!

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