Popularity can be a great thing, but when it comes to TV shows, it isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Take Game of Thrones, which for the fourth year in a row has the dubious honor of being the world's most pirated show.
The 2015 season finale of the show was downloaded an estimated 14.4 million times, which is more than the number of traditional viewers in the United States. Over half of these downloads occurred in the first week after the show aired, exceeding the total number of downloads for the two closest competitors.
The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory were the second and third most downloaded, with 6.9 and 4.4 million downloads, respectively. Rounding out the top five are the CW shows Arrow and The Flash, while Mr. Robot, Vikings, Supergirl, The Blacklist and Suits round out the top 10.
Note that these numbers only include downloads via BitTorrent, which were measured by TorrentFreak using several sources. Downloads via file hosting services or other sources weren't counted as they prove harder to track.
These numbers show that piracy of TV shows isn't going away anytime soon, despite streaming services like HBO Now and HBO Go making it easier than ever to watch them without a cable or satellite subscription. While many early downloaders of Game of Thrones used the cable requirement as an excuse, the easier availability doesn't seem to have changed much.
If anything, piracy is on the rise, as download numbers for popular shows continues to increase. One change is that those downloading pirated copies of shows are starting to prefer higher-quality versions. That said, TorrentFreak reports that 480p is still the most downloaded resolution by far, followed by 720p and 1080p.
Whether or not Game of Thrones will continue its reign as the most downloaded TV show in 2016 remains to be seen, but viewers only have a few months' wait left, as the show's sixth season premiers in April.