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The results are in: the most pirated show of 2012 is HBO’s Game of Thrones. In fact, the hit show turned out to have the highest downloads of any media, including music and movies, according to TorrentFreak. The Season 2 finale alone had 4.28 million downloads, with most of them occurring within a week of its original airing. Compare that to the 4.2 million legal views the episode had in its first week, and it becomes apparent why pirating is a quite a problem for HBO.
Studies show that while most legal viewing of the series occurs within the United States, pirating seems to be monopolized by Australia. Australians, who normally have to wait a week after U.S. airing to legally see Game of Thrones, made up over 10% of the pirating audience.
Still, HBO isn’t in trouble yet. The second most-pirated show, Showtime’s Dexter, had 3.85 million first-week downloads and a meager 2.75 million legal viewers. HBO execs speculate their partial success may come from their popular online option, HBO GO. So what does this mean for HBO in 2013? Many torrent websites are preparing for a surge of traffic in spring, when Game of Thrones returns. Some say illegal downloads will far outstrip legitimate views, which could force HBO to rethink its exclusivity to cable subscribers.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO (and torrent sites) on March 31, 2013.