Game of Thrones most downloaded TV of 2015, as major UK pirates jailed
James R | On 28, Dec 2015
Game of Thrones is once again the most pirated TV show of the year, according to TorrentFreak.
HBO’s fantasy epic was downloaded 14.4 million times in 2015 via BitTorrent, according to TorrentFreak, making it the most illegally watched series in the world for the fourth year in a row.
The Walking Dead was the second most-pirated show, with 6.9 million torrents, followed by The Big Bang Theory (4.4 million). The figures are estimates, with TorrentFreak expecting them to end up higher, but some exceed the number of viewers for episodes of the TV series – especially in the case of Thrones, which earlier this year became the most pirated show in history, with more than 258,131 torrenters sharing the same file simultaneously. The Walking Dead’s popularity, though, was not enough to rival ratings of 15.8m, while Vikings (3.3m) and Supergirl (3m) also paled in comparison to the 5m and 12.9m viewers tuning in respectively. Mr. Robot, all too aptly, given its subject matter, was downloaded 3.5m times, double its 1.75m estimated US TV ratings. (In the UK, just as with Vikings, the show has been snapped up by Amazon Prime Video for exclusive legal streaming.)
|TV Show||Illegal Downloads||US TV Viewers|
|1||Game of Thrones||14,400,000||8,110,000|
|2||The Walking Dead||6,900,000||15,780,000|
|3||The Big Bang Theory||4,400,000||18,300,000|
If the figures suggest little change from previous years, though, the industry is certainly stepping up its response to illegal viewing. Following a three-year investigation by FACT (the Federation Against Copyright Theft), five of the UK’s most prolific pirates were sentenced just before Christmas this year.
Graeme Reid, aged 40, from Chesterfield, Scott Hemming, aged 25, and Reece Baker, aged 22, from Birmingham, Sahil Rafiq, aged 24, from Wolverhampton and Ben Cooper, aged 33, from Willenhall, received sentences totalling 17 years between them.
The pirates were responsible for several groups that released movies illegally online, including RemixHD, 26K, UNiQUE, DTRG and HOPE/RESISTANCE.
“Over a number of years the groups illegally released online more than 2,500 films including Argo, the Avengers and Skyfall,” said FACT in a statement. “The outreach of their criminality was vast. On just one website where the group shared their films there had been millions of downloads.”
FACT explained how they caught Rafiq, who had uploaded many torrents under the username “memory100” on one torrent site, as well as other usernames, including “sohail20”. Sohail20, meanwhile, posted on a PC Specialist forum in 2012 about a problem he’d had with a laptop, which led FACT to accounts on PhotoBucket and Facebook, through which they found his place of work: a science school in Wolverhampton. Using information from credit agency Equifax, they found Rafiq’s home address and passed it to the police. He has been jailed for four and a half years.
For more information on how to watch Game of Thrones online legally, click here.