The top-10 most pirated TV shows of 2013

Cable companies just had their best quarter since 2011

This was quite a year for big TV series and as a result, it was also a big year for pirating TV shows. The wildly popular hit AMC show Breaking Bad wrapped up; The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Game of Thrones had huge seasons; and new shows like Masters of Sex and Sleepy Hollow burst onto the scene. Published ratings are a good gauge when measuring a show’s popularity, of course, but ratings are hardly an exact science. What is an exact science, however, is comparing torrent download volumes.

The number of people who download pirated copies of TV shows is a very good indication of a show’s overall popularity, for obvious reasons. So as the year comes to an end, taking a look back at the most pirated shows of the year gives us a very good idea of where viewers’ attention was tuned in 2013.

TorrentFreak on Wednesday published a list of the top-10 most pirated TV shows of 2013 as reported by public BitTorrent trackers. The list does not include comprehensive download data for entire seasons, but rather the number of downloads for each show’s most popular single episode. It also only covers torrent downloads as indicated by trackers that make data available, so it excludes some torrent services as well as other forms of digital piracy.

So which show took the top spot of the year? Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct answer: Game of Thrones.

Shows on more widely available channels like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother attracted huge audiences in the U.S. but since HBO is not available in standard cable packages, more people had to turn to piracy. According to TorrentFreak, 5.9 million people downloaded the season finale of Game of Thrones.

AMC shows took the No. 2 and No. 3 spots as Breaking Bad racked up 4.2 million torrent downloads and an episode of The Walking Dead was downloaded 3.5 million times. Episodes of The Big Bang Theory and Dexter rounded out the top 5 with 3.4 million downloads and 3.1 million downloads, respectively.

A chart showing the top-10 most pirated TV shows of 2013 follows below.

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