Gone are the days of only a few broadcast networks that everybody was stuck with; now it seems that every damn channel on the dial is greenlighting original scripted series, even if that’s something they haven’t traditionally been known for. (Personally, I’m waiting for The Weather Channel’s miniseries adaptation of The Tempest.) But even in our scattered and segmented media landscape, there are some shows that rise to the level of must-see TV — the sort of thing that you pretty much have to stay current on, lest you risk banishment as a social pariah. Or at least exclusion from water-cooler chatter and mockery on Internet message boards. Well, since nobody ever worked hard to make something that a bunch of other people didn’t want to steal for free, naturally AMC’s The Walking Dead is one of the most pirated series on the P2P file-sharing service Bittorrent.
That tidbit comes via Variety, who are reporting the results of a study by piracy tracking firm CEG TEK. (If their employees don’t have “Pirate Tracker” on their business cards, they’re missing an opportunity.) CEG TEK released a rundown of both the top 10 most pirated networks and the top 10 pirated shows. According to CEG TEK’s numbers, there were 140,960 “unique peers worldwide” sharing episodes of The Walking Dead last week. Even assuming some of those people were walkers who accidentally opened Bittorrent while chewing on the keyboard, that’s still a lot of people. I’d be curious to know how that number compares to the number of people streaming or downloading the show in “legitimate” ways, such as via Netflix Instant (which currently only has the first three seasons available).
At the top of the heap is HBO’s Game of Thrones, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been trying to dodge GoT spoilers on Facebook during the past few weeks. This is the show that’s been threatening to break HBO Go on a semi-regular basis, after all. Below Game of Thrones is CBS’s sitcom The Big Bang Theory, with The Walking Dead then coming in third place. Thrones’ numbers are nearly double that of Big Bang Theory’s — 289,310 unique peers, as compared to Big Bang’s 146,051. Game of Thrones commanding lead makes sense given that the show is currently in the midst of its fourth season, whereas The Walking Dead wrapped up its season last month. As for The Big Bang Theory, I can’t watch two minutes of that show without wanting to kill myself, but clearly somebody’s tuning in to the damn thing.
It’s interesting to note that over half of the top 10 pirated shows are fantasy/sci-fi or geek-friendly fare. In addition to the three previously mentioned, we’ve got The CW’s Arrow coming in at fourth place with 130,878; ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at seventh place with 96,534; and ABC’s Once Upon a Time in tenth place with 64,371. (I can’t believe that show is still on.) The remainder of the list is full of as-expected mainstream hits including Breaking Bad, Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, and How I Met Your Mother — the latter of which just wrapped up its run with a controversial series finale, so I’m sure that helped bump it up a few notches.
It’s just another sign of how much of an impact the success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have had on the TV landscape, something that is definitely making positive waves when it comes to getting more interesting genre material front-burnered by the competing networks. Now I just wonder how many pirates are pirating Starz’ pirate drama Black Sails…
You can check out which 10 networks earned the most-pirated bragging rights in the handy infographic below. Shiver me timbers.