Top 10 Most Pirated TV-Shows of 2008

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As the year moves toward its conclusion we have been taking a a look at the most pirated titles in various categories in 2008. Following our Top 10 games and movies posts, we now take a look at the most downloaded TV-shows. Lost is without a doubt the most downloaded TV-show, with over 5 million downloads for one single episode.

lostTV-shows are getting increasingly more popular on BitTorrent. Most TV-broadcasters won’t be happy to hear this, but one could argue that BitTorrent has actually helped TV-shows to build a stronger, broader, and more involved fanbase.

Perhaps even more importantly, the rise of unauthorized downloading of TV-shows is a signal that customers want something that is not available through other channels. Availability seems to be the key issue why people turn to BitTorrent.

This also becomes clear when we look at the geographical location of the downloaders. The vast majority of the downloads come from overseas, over 90% on average. Outside the US, fans sometimes have to wait for weeks or even months before the show airs on TV in their country. Many of them are simply not that patient or willing to torture themselves, and turn to BitTorrent in desperation.

Legal online streaming services are only available in the US, and change very little in the overall download figures. Until the availability problem is addressed, we’re not likely to see a decrease in TV-show downloads from BitTorrent. Indeed, compared to last year, the download figures have grown a little, especially for the top three TV-shows in the list.

Below we have compiled a list of the most downloaded TV-shows, together with the viewer average for TV in the US, based on data from Nielsen. Note that the download count for each show is per episode, the most downloaded in this case. The Olympics Opening Ceremony was one of the most wanted broadcasts of the year with 4,620,000 downloads, but we decided only to include TV-series.

The data for the top 10 is collected by TorrentFreak from several sources, including reports from all the large BitTorrent trackers. The download number is the sum of all torrent downloads for the most popular episode. Based on previous experience a correction is made for smaller .torrent releases that we might have missed.

Most downloaded TV-shows on BitTorrent, 2008
rank show downloads est. US TV viewers
1 Lost 5,730,000 13,400,000
2 Heroes 4,400,000 8,200,000
3 Prison Break 3,840,000 6,100,000
4 Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles 2,240,000 5,500,000
5 Desperate Housewives 1,990,000 16,200,000
6 Stargate Atlantis 1,810,000 1,700,000
7 Dexter 1,660,000 7,200,000
8 House 1,520,000 15,700,000
9 Grey’s Anatomy 1,380,000 16,000,000
10 Smallville 1,150,000 4,100,000


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