2017 is very nearly at an end, which means the time has come to look back at the most-pirated shows of the past year. It was a big year of TV with some of the most talked-about shows returning and/or premiering on cable, broadcast, and streaming outlets. Viewers couldn't possibly watch absolutely everything live, and as always, some resorted to not-so-legal methods of getting to watch episodes. Now, the results of the most-pirates shows of 2017 are in, and they're exactly what you might expect. Take a look:
1. Game of Thrones
2. The Walking Dead
3. The Flash
4. The Big Bang Theory
5. Rick and Morty
6. Prison Break
The annual report of BitTorrent traffic (via TorrentFreak) places Game of Thrones at the top of the list of most-pirated shows for the sixth year in a row, which is a dubious honor considering all of the trouble with hacks, leaks, and illegal downloads in recent seasons. That said, Game of Thrones won its highest ratings to date in Season 7, so the piracy didn't result in disappointing numbers for HBO. Sure, the numbers would be higher if everybody who watched had watched via HBO or one of its streaming services, but Game of Thrones isn't exactly a show that will get the axe due to low ratings courtesy of piracy.
Unlike Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead didn't spend 2017 beating its own peak ratings records. In fact, the show has been hitting some of its lowest numbers in many years throughout Season 8. We have to wonder how different the ratings would be if all the people who pirated the show watched legally. The Walking Dead is another show that is usually high on the list of most-pirated shows, and it occupied the #2 slot for 2016 as well. Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and (somewhat surprisingly) Suits are the only shows to retain the same ranking from last year to this year.
Of the shows that returned to this list from 2017, The Flash and The Big Bang Theory are the only two to rise in the rankings. The Flash was the fourth most-pirated series in 2016, while The Big Bang Theory was the sixth. Vikings dropped from #7 in 2016 to #8 in 2017, and Arrow sank all the way from #5 to #10.
Interestingly, there were three newcomers to the list, although none of them were freshman series. Rick and Morty likely earned the #5 slot due to the fact that it finally returned in 2017 after a long hiatus. The Prison Break revival had been highly-anticipated for a long time by fans who had only hoped that the show might someday return to Fox, and that anticipation and returning fandom likely put it on the list as #6. Sherlock is another series that had been off the air for quite a while, and the fourth season only ran for three episodes. No wonder it made the rundown of most-downloaded shows!
All of this said, we shouldn't take this ranking as confirmation of all piracy from 2017. The BitTorrent numbers only represent a portion of the piracy over the past year, and piracy via streaming sites and services is much harder to track than downloads. Still, it's clear that these ten shows were incredibly popular with online pirates in 2017.