'Game of Thrones' Was the Most Pirated TV Show of 2015

Khaleesi would not approve of your thievery.

That jaw-dropping Jon Snow moment at the end of season five gave Game of Thrones a major boost in viewers—but it turns out that millions of those tuning in did so illegally. Game of Thrones is still ruling the ranks of torrented TV shows, topping the year's most-pirated list for the fourth year in a row.

TorrentFreak tracks how often shows are illegally downloaded, and this year's season finale of Game of Thrones was downloaded via BitTorrent 14.4 million times. That number is higher than the number of actual television viewers that episode racked up in the United States. More than 258,000 people shared the same torrent file at the same time, and it was downloaded 1.5 million times during the first eight hours after the show ended. 

The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory landed in second and third with a comparatively paltry 6.9 million and 4.4 million downloads. But it seems like people are illegally downloading the HBO show by a landslide, despite the fact that the network started to warn torrenters this year after the season premiere leaked. They even launched a standalone HBO Now subscription for cord-cutters, but the pirating numbers keep going up. And given that Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, says season six is "mental," the trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon, despite HBO's best efforts. 

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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.