Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Well, this should surprise exactly no one: Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad both topped the list of the year's most pirated shows, according to TorrentFreak. For much of 2013, Game of Thrones has been leading the most pirated list, a distinction not generally sought by most TV executives. HBO, however, has been thrilled about it. Jeff Bewkes, the head of HBO parent company Time Warner, even bragged about the popularity of Game of Thrones on the torrent networks back in August, calling it "better than an Emmy."
Interestingly, more people downloaded Game of Thrones (5.9 million) this year than watched it on TV (5.5 million). Ditto with Dexter, which had 3.1 downloads and 2.8 million TV viewers, and Homeland, which had only 20,000 more downloads than viewers. That's likely explained by the fact that all three are on premium networks with somewhat limited access for non-subscribers.
Still, most of the other top 10 shows were also cable network products — Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Vikings, and Suits — with only How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Arrow representing the broadcast networks.
Though it seems like HBO got exactly what it wanted, not all TV execs are happy about piracy. Earlier this month, Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of The Walking Dead, rebuked members of her industry who support piracy as a means to broadening their shows' reach: "I’m not sure they really understand other than anecdotal evidence that their ratings go up that the people who pirate are not then going to choose legal downloads or legal viewing in the future." Considering that The Walking Dead has triple the TV viewership of Game of Thrones, Hurd might have a point.