Game of Thrones and Interstellar top piracy lists as unauthorised sharing booms

Despite winning some ground in the battle against piracy, the entertainment industry's war on unauthorised media sharing did not stop key film and television titles clocking record numbers.

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The television series Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead topped the "most pirated" list, with Game of Thrones recording more than 14 million unauthorised downloads last year around the world.

The films Interstellar, Fast and Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron also clocked more than 40 million downloads apiece.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in <i>Game of Thrones</i>.
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of ThronesPhoto: HBO/Showcase

Those numbers come despite several wins in the industry's war on piracy, including the closure of several major torrent websites and shutting down at least one key movie torrent distributor.

This year's numbers also reflected the growth of high speed broadband in certain media markets, with countries such as Brazil, Russia and India now topping a list once dominated by Australia and the UK.


The piracy charts were compiled by the data tracking firms Torrentfreak and Excipio, which monitored torrent activity in 2014 and 2015.

A torrent is a file which is used to source parts of a media file from multiple sources on the internet.

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in the film <i>Interstellar</i>.
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in the film Interstellar

One of the key trends this year is an upsurge in unauthorised downloading volumes, suggesting that the existing model of timed launches for movies and television programs is not meeting consumer demand for immediate and simultaneous access to new content.

2014's most downloaded film The Wolf of Wall Street would not, on its numbers, have made the top 10 this year, according to data from Excipio.

Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg in <i>The Big Bang Theory</i>.
Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg in The Big Bang Theory.  

And this year's most downloaded film, Interstellar, topped the chart with roughly double the volume of downloads that Wolf of Wall Street had when it topped the chart.

In broad terms, the lists reflect the popularity of the films and television programs on them.

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the big-budget <i>Fast and Furious 7</i>.
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the big-budget Fast and Furious 7

That is to say, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory, which topped the television list, are by various algorithms currently the most commercially successful programs in the world.

The same can be said for the films Interstellar, Fast and Furious 7, Avengers, Age of Ultron and Jurassic World which, between them, took US$5.264 billion.

But the lists, particularly the television list, also reflect popular content which is often not immediately available in international markets.

Some programs, such as The Big Bang Theory, face delays in broadcast. In Australia, the Nine Network owns the rights to The Big Bang Theory and frequently airs episodes weeks or months after their US telecast.

Other programs, such as Suits and Supernatural, are often broadcast on smaller channels.

The 10 most pirated TV shows

  1. Game of Thrones: 14.4 million (HBO)
  2. The Walking Dead: 6.9 million (AMC)
  3. The Big Bang Theory: 4.4 million (CBS)
  4. Arrow: 3.9 million (CW)
  5. The Flash: 3.6 million (CW)
  6. Mr Robot: 3.5 million (USA Network)
  7. Vikings: 3.3 million (History)
  8. Super Girl: 3 million (CBS)
  9. The Blacklist: 2.9 million (NBC)
  10. Suits: 2.6 million (USA Network)

The 10 most pirated movies

  1. Interstellar: 46.762 million (Paramount / Warner Bros)
  2. Fast and Furious 7: 44.794 million (Universal)
  3. Avengers, Age of Ultron: 41.594 million (Disney)
  4. Jurassic World: 36.881 million (Universal)
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road: 36.443 million (Warner Bros)
  6. American Sniper 33.953 million (Warner Bros)
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey 32.126 million (Universal)
  8. The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies: 31.574 million (Warner Bros)
  9. Terminator, Genisys: 31.001 million (Paramount)
  10. Kingsman: The Secret Service: 30.922 million (20th Century Fox)