Piracy is a fact of life in the entertainment industry, no matter how much studios try to fight it—and in an age where the streaming industry is feeling more and more like cable television by the day—it’s going to remain that way for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to see what audiences were looking for on the high seas… and how a lot of that hasn’t really changed.
Torrent Freak’s annual look at piracy in 2023 saw the top 10 shows once again dominated by familiar faces from the world of streaming sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero material. It’s a running trend for the last few years since the age of Game of Thrones’ climax—which dominated torrent sites for pretty much the entirety of its run, a legacy continued now by House of the Dragon, which took the crown in 2022—gave way to pirated streaming content. Here’s the list for 2023:
10) Ted Lasso (Apple TV)
9) Gen V (Amazon Prime Video)
8) Tulsa King (Paramount+)
7) Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV)
6) Silo (Apple TV)
5) Secret Invasion (Disney+)
4) Ahsoka (Disney+)
3) Loki (Disney+)
2) The Mandalorian (Disney+)
1) The Last of Us (HBO)
It should be noted, as Torrent Freak does, these statistics only reflect a portion of any pirated content this year. The stats are specifically for single-episode torrents, rather than season-wide packages, and even more specifically they’re based on data from the torrenting platform BitTorrent. Just as television has grown and evolved across new formats in the last decade or so, so has piracy, with more and more people turning to sites hosting streams of pirated content, rather than “traditionally” pirating content through downloaded, local copies. But even with that in mind, it’s not surprising that for the most part the biggest shows in demand are the ones that require premiums to access across multiple streaming platforms—even The Last of Us fits this, as both a hybrid show broadcast on premium cable and simulcast on (HBO) Max.
As the streaming age continues to descend into a portfolio of walled gardens, rather than its initial promise of offering access to content from a variety of studios in a singular place, it remains unsurprising that people will see piracy as an alternative to paying for another subscription-based service on top of what they already do to try out a show. And that certainly seems to be the case considering there is one major streamer noticeably absent from this year’s list: Netflix. It’s not like the streamer didn’t have any big shows this year, either—it’s more likely that a lot more people have a Netflix subscription than they do an Apple TV+ or Disney+ subscription… and given the general trend across many streaming platforms this year has been increasing prices on cut or stagnated content, and, well, can you blame people for not wanting to buy in on top of what they already have?
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