The most pirated televisions shows and movies in 2012

The most pirated show in the world

The torrent hosting website, recently reported on their blog,, on the top ten most pirated television shows in 2012. Game of Thrones topped the pirate’s list with a total of 4 280 000 downloads of a single episode of the show which consistently drew more than 3 million downloads per episode.

The top ten most pirated shows

The number of times which the show’s most pirated episode was downloaded is only slightly lower than the total number of viewers which the episode had live. In second place – quite some way behind Game of Thrones – is Dexter with 3 850 000 downloads for an episode. Dexter topped the list of pirated series in 2011. It’s followed closely by The Big Bang Theory at 3 200 000 downloads per episode. The only other comedy on the list is How I Met Your Mother (4), with the list rounded out by critical favourites like Breaking Bad (5) and Homeland (7), stalwart House (8) and sci-fi favourites like Fringe (9), The Walking Dead (6) and newcomer Revolution (10).




est. US TV viewers

1 Game of Thrones 4,280,000 4,200,000
2 Dexter 3,850,000 2,750,000
3 The Big Bang Theory 3,200,000 15,820,000
4 How I Met Your Mother 2,960,000 10,140,000
5 Breaking Bad 2,580,000 2,980,000
6 The Walking Dead 2,550,000 10,870,000
7 Homeland 2,400,000 2,360,000
8 House 2,340,000 9,780,000
9 Fringe 2,280,000 3,120,000
10 Revolution 2,130,000 11,650,000

 Why series are pirated

According to TorrentFreak, which is ranked the 3550th most visited website in the world, most people downloading via torrents do so due to a lack of access to the series through legal channels. After shows have aired in the states, viewers outside of the US have to wait between a week and sometimes even several months before a show airs on local networks. With the internet inundated with spoilers and stories about the television shows it hardly seems surprising that viewers resort to pirating to obtain series episodes in a timely fashion after initial broadcast. International downloaders (non-US) account for more than 80% of the total pirate downloads, with Australian, British and Canadian viewers downloading the most.

In their report, TorrentFreak also indicates that HBO – the network which airs Game of Thrones in the USA – has made it particularly difficult for viewers to access only the channel and the shows on it as access to HBO can only be bought as part of a cable package and only subscribers to that package have access to HBO’s online HBO GO service which allows viewers to watch the series online. Critics of the network have called for HBO to amend the terms of their services and to allow viewers to buy access to HBO GO as a standalone subscription service claiming that pirating of their shows will decrease drastically while their income will increase.

The most pirated movies of the year

TorrentFreak released a similar list of the movies that were pirated most in 2012. Curiously TorrentFreak does not attempt to explain why people might be illegally downloading films as they do with television series, citing only research which indicates that the pirating of movies has no impact on box office returns.



est. downloads

worldwide grosses

1 Project X 8,720,000 $100,931,865
2 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol 8,500,000 $694,713,380
3 The Dark Knight Rises 8,230,000 $1,081,041,287
4 The Avengers 8,110,000 $1,511,757,910
5 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows 7,850,000 $543,848,418
6 21 Jump Street 7,590,000 $201,585,328
7 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 7,420,000 $232,617,430
8 The Dictator 7,330,000 $177,547,352
9 Ice Age: Continental Drift 6,960,000 $875,093,094
10 The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 6,740,000 $712,171,856

Do you use torrent’s to watch television series and movies?


  1. Zombiesarecoolerthanvampires says:

    I download Walking Dead – best show ever! Can’t believe Twilight is on that list. Makes me sad for the human race.

    1. Yeah, I’m surprised that Twilight fans even know how to download via torrents. While I also appreciate Walking Dead I’m more partial to Fringe and Parks and Rec!

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