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American TV is frequently pirated—not just in the US, but also across the globe. This weekend, Netflix dropped the third season of its acclaimed series House of Cards, and by the end of the first 24 hours the series was available, it had been pirated nearly 700,000 times. Apparently, many of the places the show was highly pirated were countries that currently don’t have access to Netflix subscriptions, and piracy is a way to catch Frank and Clair Underwood in action. Here are the top 10 countries that pirated House of Cards during the show’s initial release:
The figures come from Variety, who did some digging and determined that China was responsible for the most illegal downloads of House of Cards Season 3 during the show's initial release. Of the 681,889 actual downloads, 60,538 came from China. The US was at a not-so-close second with 50,008 downloads in the first 24 hours. India came in third, with 47,106. The Netherlands came in 10th place, with 20,402 downloads tracked in the first 24 hours, which should serve to show you the gap between the #1 country and the #10 country.
While those numbers are a lot for the first 24 hours but not a wild amount per country, a lot of people also use virtual private network services to access Netflix programming, including House of Cards. Thus, theoretically, those figures should be way higher. The report also indicates that more than 20 million people from China use that form to download programming, which means there could potentially be many more people across the globe who are interested in downloading House of Cards. Additionally, House of Cards is not the only Netflix original program that has seen a piracy spike following a release. Orange is The New Black is also quite popular with audiences who prefer to pirate TV programs.
Netflix is already available in 41 countries, including several that appear on the list. Countries including the US, France, Canada, the U.K. and the Netherlands all have Netflix available. Regardless, the list also serves to show there is a desire for Netflix original programming in areas that haven’t yet gotten Netflix, yet. And while piracy is undoubtedly illegal, the list should show areas where Netflix already has brand awareness and might be looking to gain viewers in the future.
House of Cards Season 3 kicked off with a bang and ended on a cliffhanger, so it’s no surprise the show got heavy volume downloading traffic over the weekend. However, Netflix is not a fan of releasing ratings to the world, so doubtless, we won’t be able to tell how many people actually caught the show legally. From what we can tell, though, it should be quite a lot of viewers.