'Game of Thrones' Was 2012's Most Pirated TV Show, 'Fringe' Makes Top 10

Categories: 1-Featured,Academy Awards,Broadcast TV,Cable TV,Top TV Show Downloads

Written By

December 27th, 2012

File sharing news site Torrent Freak has released the list of the top 10 most pirated shows of 2012. According to the site, 80 percent of pirating occurs outside of the United States.  Game of Thrones topped the list, followed by Dexter. The list is evenly split between broadcast and cable. Fringe fans may be pleased to note that the show is in the top ten, though this is definitely a somewhat dubious distinction. It certainly adds a new square to Fan Excuse Bingo.



  • Ali

    Game of thrones is the most pirated because it’s the least available through broadcast worldwide…

  • Tessa

    80 percent of pirating occurs outside of the United States.

    Makes sense since no fan wants to hang their hopes on a local channel to purchase the rights to their favorite show. Mostly by the time they do the show is in its second or third season which puts the international fans way behind in online conversations.

  • Spen B

    Why must live viewing be the one area Fringe doesn’t do well in???

  • Jamie


    Yep, and then even if they want to watch something legally, good luck finding an actual site (Hulu, the actual station’s) that lets them stream it in their country. And the DVDs are usually way more expensive too. Americans have a lot of options before they’d be “forced” to pirate but it’s a lot harder for people outside the US to watch things close to their air date legally.

  • Hubert R. Wentland

    In my country, gossep girl

  • CenterGravity

    The pirates have good taste. I watch five of the shows on that list.

  • Hubert R. Wentland

    In my country, Gossip Girl is #1. Kinda sad.

  • brian

    how can a show that is available free (network) ever really be pirated??
    I understand they mean “viewed off network broadcast” — but if it is free TV, it is not actually stolen (pirated)…. no lost revenue.

  • Foxhunt


    Also, who wants to wait half a year to a year until the DVDs are released in the country you live in?
    I guess that the numbers would explode exponentially if legal streaming was forbidden in the US.
    In Germany, nobodyy would allow Hulu or something comparable, to stream episodes. Preposterous!

  • Ali


    When people watch it on TV, the ads are part of it, you are forced to watch them. When you download it, ads are removed. You’re paying HBO by watchin their ads. Pirates dont do that.

  • rob60990

    Surprised Modern Family isn’t on the list.

  • sara

    Goes back to poor business plans. There are huge audiences out there for these shows, but those in charge have been unable to figure out a way to take advantage of that fact. American television is still focusing on only a domestic audience while other industries have learned it is now a global market. SO instead of playing to that market, the networks keep pumping out lame one season losers which cost them in development time and money with no hope of syndication and which do nothing to promote loyalty to their own brands. They desperately need to find a business school drop out to explain this to them, TO quote the still internationally popular Dr House, “You Morons”.

  • romo

    dvd sux….bluray rules !!

  • AnnoyingToYou

    Not a surprise that [b]Game of Thrones[/b] was top. It’s pretty much just a televised version of the National Enquirer, anyway. The ridiculous plots and terrible writing combined with the only-for-shock value boobs makes for a great distraction from consciousness.

  • brian

    Ali — except that’s not completely true. DVR viewing is not considered “piracy” though you can ignore (forward) the commercials. Piracy is really the illegal stealing of the rights to the show…

  • Raykov

    In Bulgaria it’s The Vampire Diaries the most pirated show.

  • intexor

    Those numbers aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. How did they compile those numbers? That can’t even be the total number of just torrent downloads, and there are plenty of other options to download shows illegally. I wouldn’t even buy those numbers if they were just talking about north-America to be honest.

  • Tom M

    @brian – The fact that it’s AVAILABLE for free doesn’t mean it’s PRODUCED for free. The majority of a network TV show’s budget is derived from revenue from ad sales. Unless your pirated copy contains the ads (which I’m sure happens for people who don’t have the time or know-how to strip out commercials, but I personally have never seen it) and you watch them, then, certainly philosophically anyway, that’s piracy.

    Put another way, the networks say to the viewer, “Please accept 15-ish minutes added viewing time to the show you’re already watching to attend a video fund-raiser at no cost to you, but that will allow us to pay to keep producing the show you enjoy watching at the level of quality you enjoy watching it at and (God forbid) generate some profit for our network”. For 50-ish years, this social contract between network and viewer functioned efficiently, and then over the last 10 to 15 or so, a number of factors including, but not limited to, the proliferation of entitlement culture and the advent of the DVR and On Demand viewing gave the audience an escape clause from that contract, and out of (insert motivation here – laziness, entitlement, desire for innovation, whatever) they took it. The networks, caught unawares (Otherwise, how else does the DVR even MAKE it to market? The TV industry has lobbyists like any other, you’d have thought an invention that potentially destroys their business model would’ve merited a phone call or two!) after decades of a comfortable arrangement they must’ve been assuming would last indefinitely, were slow to react and when they did, made errors that only further undermined their own position. And so we arrive at today’s network-viewer relationship, basically one of the viewer showing up to loot the network’s storefront, so to speak, and the network saying, “You know what? Lemme help you reach that stuff on the top shelf and carry it out of here”.

    Alright…I’ll admit that unintentionally devolved into a rant, so consider the rant over and my point made (or not). Thanks for reading! :)

  • Neil

    Wonder what show will replace House in 2013.

  • Nerdbot


    HBO airs Game of Thrones in all the Latin American territory. It’s still only on cable but the channel is available for pretty much all the basic TV cable plans, so I couldn’t say that it’s “the least available” and it’s aired at the same day (and probably same time) that HBO in the US does.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures