In case you're someone who likes to keep up-to-date on dubious honors, here's one for you: Game of Thrones is the most-pirated show of 2015, a prize that it has now claimed for four years straight. Yup, you read that right — the HBO hit has been sweeping the competition since 2012, just a year after it went on the air. And, since we're keeping track, the only reason they haven't held the record since day one is because in 2011, Game of Thrones was only the second most-pirated show, getting narrowly edged out by Dexter. So this streak is for real, and the distance between GoT and its nearest competitor is only getting wider.
In 2012, that competitor was Dexter — no surprise there — at 3.85 million downloads, putting them just 430,000 downloads behind GoT, which had 4.28 million. The next year, 2013, Game of Thrones jumped to 5.2 million illegal downloads, with The Big Bang Theory actually dropping down to 2.9 million for second place, widening the gap to 2.3 million views. In 2014, Game of Thrones continued pulling away, reaching 8.1 million downloads over Breaking Bad 's second-place finish of 4.8 million. That pushed the difference all the way up to 3.3 million, which, as it happens, is higher than the total downloads of that year's fifth-place finisher, Gotham.
However, the blowout is even wider this year. In 2015, TorrentFreak estimates that Game of Thrones was illegally downloaded a whopping 14.4 million times, with The Walking Dead trailing behind at just 6.9 million. While that's still a higher number than second place has ever attained before, it still puts them 7.5 million illegal downloads behind the winner. Talk about a bittersweet victory, right?
On the one hand, it has to be flattering that so many people want to see your show. But, on the other, it's not like Game of Thrones' creators are seeing any revenue from this, because it's people who are watching the series without paying for it — especially when you consider that the other dubious honor GoT holds is that it's the only show on the list that's consistently illegally downloaded more than it's watched legally. In 2015 it had 8.11 million estimated U.S. TV viewers, which is 6.29 million less than that 14.4 figure I was throwing out earlier. Luckily, the people behind the show seem to have a pretty good attitude about it, saying illegal downloading doesn't hurt GoT 's numbers, so, if they can handle it, so can I.
But here's what I'm wondering — is any show ever going to take the controversial "most-pirated" crown away from Game of Thrones? One thing that seems sure is that it won't be any time soon, and it will have to be on a network that doesn't air their shows online as well, as that seems to encourage piracy. I really can't think of anything in the pipeline that meets those stipulations. It would have to be something with a ready-made fan base built in, like a televised continuation of the Harry Potter series, or like a miniseries about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's friendship.
So, yeah, make something like that, entertainment world, or GoT is just gonna keep sweeping this category until the end of time. (Or at least until it wraps up all its seasons. Whatever comes first.)
Images: HBO; Giphy (2)