HBO's hit series Game of Thrones has the double-edged distinction of being the most pirated TV show in all of 2014. This is the third year in a row that Game of Thrones has been downloaded more times than any other TV show, with its latest season finale attracting more than 8 million downloads on BitTorrent alone. That's higher than the number of people who actually tuned in to watch the finale.
We say it's a "double-edged distinction" because on one hand, if you're HBO, you wish that at least a portion of those record numbers would subscribe to your service and watch the show legally. There's certainly some lost revenue there, though at the same time, HBO's programming president Michael Lombardo took the piracy figures in stride last year.
"I probably shouldn't be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts," Lombardo said. "The demand is there. And it certainly didn't negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network."
HBO has a history of not overreacting to piracy figures, as it's one of the few media companies that understand it's going to happen when you have a supremely popular franchise on your hands. Game of Thrones certainly qualifies as one -- in addition to being the most downloaded show in 2014, it also set an all-time piracy record when more than half a million peers shared the same torrent file simultaneously earlier this year.
AMC's The Walking Dead was the next most popular show in terms of illegal downloads, though at 4.8 million, it didn't really come close to Game of Thrones.