Every year piracy news site Torrentfreak compiles the most pirated TV shows of the year.
Here are the top 10…
U.S. Viewers: 11,650,000
When Revolution launched, it held the promise for fans of a new Lost. Its mix of a post-apocalyptic world where electricity has stopped working and the involvement of Lost creator J.J. Abrams created big expectations. Reviews have been mixed and a good portion of the Internet really hates the main character. But it pulled in a lot of viewers, including a healthy portion of illegal ones.
U.S. Viewers: 3,120,000
When it debuted in 2008, Fringe drew nearly 10 million viewers. The appeal for this interesting science fiction show has waned a lot and its fourth season only attracted a third of that. Yet oddly enough this is the first year that Fringe appears on the top 10, perhaps because season 5 is its final run.
U.S. Viewers: 9,780,000
The surreal life of Dr. Gregory House has made Hugh Laurie a superstar and everyone wonder if they have an obscure disease. But it had to come to an end and after eight seasons the angry and cynical physician has hung up his stethoscope. The show has featured in this top 10 since 2008 and its departure will no doubt leave a hole on many download queues.
U.S. Viewers: 2,360,000
Few TV shows have managed to be as nail-biting as this cat-and-mouse terrorist thriller – even the U.S. President admitted that he is a fan. Yet it took the world a while to catch onto Homeland and its first season didn’t make previous lists. Season two had no such drawbacks and quickly climbed the ranks of illegal downloads. If the show maintains its incredible pace and performance, Homeland may very well return again in future top 10s.
6. The Walking Dead
U.S. Viewers: 10,870,000
A show about zombies, based on a popular series of graphic novels, was going to be big on the Internet even before it started. The Walking Dead launched on a wave of hype and still managed to exceed expectations. Season 2 wasn’t as well received, but it didn’t dampen viewer numbers or pirate downloads. In fact, the show climbed from 7th to 6th spot and also boosted its legal viewers by a third.
There was a time when nobody knew this infamous show. But the saga of a cancer-ridden science teacher and a drop-out student cooking the drug Crystal Methamphetamine proved to be a slow-burn sensation – by season 3 it was a huge hit. Last year Breaking Bad debuted at the 10th spot, but in 2012 it became the fastest riser on the list as pirate viewers kept clicking to download its episodes
4. How I Met Your Mother
U.S. Viewers: 10,140,000
Since it arrived on the list three years ago, the sitcom about Neil Patrick Harris and four people he knows has steadily risen up the ranks. Last year it was fifth and before that sixth. The show’s viewer numbers fluctuate – it was higher in 2012, but lower in 2011. But pirate numbers have taken a modest jump from the 2.5 million downloads recorded in each of those years.
3. The Big Bang Theory
U.S. Viewers: 15,820,000
The most pirated sitcom on the list is the geek-loving Big Bang Theory, which has been consistently growing its viewership. The latest season, number six, has also drawn the most viewers: double that of the first season. Showing that piracy often reflects legal viewer trends, Big Bang Theory only debuted on this list in 2010, in 4th position. It has since gained and kept the third spot for two years running.
U.S. Viewers: 2,750,000
So many people have stopped watching Dexter that you’d think the show is sliding into obscurity. Not at all – the first episode of the seventh season had the highest premiere audience numbers in the history of Showtime, Dexter’s parent channel. Maybe we all just secretly love do-gooder serial killers. Online pirates have not been any less supportive: for as long as the Torrentfreak piracy lists have been released, Dexter has featured on it. Last year it even reached the top spot.
1. Game of Thrones
U.S. Viewers: 4,200,000
Not everyone was happy with season 2, but how can you stop watching? The HBO fantasy epic Game Of Thrones is a monster production and has matched that with its success. The pirates followed the viewers: this show debuted last year at number two and now claimed the top spot. With a new season starting in April, history is likely to repeat itself – at least until someone stabs that annoying prince.