‘The Walking Dead’ Feasted On by Internet Pirates

Internet Piracy

More than 500,000 Internet users worldwide access zombie thriller after it first showed up on illegal sites

The Walking Dead” season four premiere — after tearing into a huge TV audience Sunday — was downloaded illegally by more than 500,000 people around the world within 16 hours of the episode first showing up on illegal download sites, according to piracy website TorrentFreak.

That’s despite efforts by distributor Fox Intl. Channels to release the zombie thriller in some 125 countries less than 24 hours after debuting in the States on cabler AMC, in an effort to curb piracy.

Even though AMC is making the ep available to stream for free for the next 27 days on its website, the U.S. had the highest percentage of illegal downloaders for the “Walking Dead” episode of any country, with 15.5%, according to TorrentFreak.

On U.S. television, “The Walking scored record ratings for AMC. Sunday’s premiere of season four show delivered an average audience of 16.1 million viewers. That was more than 5 million viewers better than last year’s 10.87 million.

Another high-profile AMC series, “Breaking Bad,” last month saw the series finale of the show downloaded more than 500,000 times within 12 hours after it became available on torrent sites.

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  1. randy says:

    its on their episode to download for free? with no commericals? i highly doubt that.

  2. SomeDude says:

    One thing you miss is that virtually all of the so call pirates get the Walking Dead on the sets at home but either work or simply want to save a copy of the show. My question has always been “How many times to I have to pay for a piece if IP before I am allowed a private digital copy of moderate quality?” I pay for Direct TV. I buy the DVDs (yes, all of them) and with the exception of shows like WKRP in Cincinnati – which are no longer available to the public BECAUSE OF DRM, every show I download I have paid for in one form or another. Typically more than once. And I never download music or movies because those are simply too inexpensive to waste bandwidth on. I buy CDs (yes the plastic variety) and DVDs. They both cost less than a sandwich.

    The very idea that broadcast TV can be pirated is a bit of a joke. Call me a pirate if you like but I pay my dish bill. I buy my DVDs. I still download a copy so that I can have it in my laptop while travelling for my job. I’m not sure that is piracy and I’m not sure you know what piracy actually is.

  3. adarah says:

    i’m sorry but boohoo poor extremely rich people who are running corporations which operate under conditions which are more often than not arguably immoral. and as for AMC … im pretty sure they are doing just fine raking in the moola. i dont feel a bit sorry for their revenues.

  4. jedi77 says:

    I live in a North European country.
    There may or may not be some channel somewhere showing the premiere episode, they may even show it this very week. But I don’t care. It is too much trouble for me to go through every single one of my 25-30 channels to find out which one is showing it, and when it’s on. Not to mention then recording it, or actually being home at that set time.

    I don’t have the time, nor the patience for that.
    But, I do want to watch it.
    So I may or may not torrent it.
    The example goes for other shows as well, like The Blacklist, Agents of Shield, etc.

    And quite frankly, as long as I pay the bill to my cable provider, who cares whether I see the show on tv, record it from tv, or download it from a torrent site?

    The production company have already been paid by the channel, who bought the rights to show it in my country, and that channel already has my subscription fee.

    So who am I cheating?

    • Jason Oliveri says:

      At the risk of sounding like a jerk, do you guys not have TV guide or something similar where you are?

      As someone who’s already openly admitted to watching this show through nefarious means (after extended attempts at legitimacy) I hope I don’t sound like a hypocrite here either, but to answer your question of who you’re cheating, it’s AMC and to a lesser extent the people behind The Walking Dead. Despite being a cable network, AMC is still primarily ad supported, and that’s where the vast majority of their revenue comes from. So when we watch a pirated version, it doesn’t have the ads, which trickles down to the sponsors eventually not wanting to spend as much for ad-buys, which means a lower future budget for Walking Dead, which hurts everyone.

      Now obviously this is an extreme scenario, and one that doesn’t seem to matter if you’re not a ratings household… But one can assume that AMC can get some hard viewer numbers from the people who stream from their site, which they can then show to the ad buyers, but if people are turning to pirated versions, that doesn’t do AMC much good. Yes, it’s cool that they can tout how many millions of people love the show above and beyond their traditional Nielsen numbers, but that doesn’t mean much to the bean counters who have to pay the bills at the end of the day.

      Now, realistically, do I think the pirate numbers would be much different if AMC had a fully functioning streaming option? No, honestly it would probably barely make a dent. But it would at least be a start, not to mention pirate numbers can rarely be equated to a loss in revenue and more often simply leads to less traditional revenue streams from people who end up buying the Bluray/DVD seasons down the line, or find other ways to monetarily promote the brand that they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t discovered the show via bit-torrent. But of course, the aforementioned bean counters pretty much never choose to look at things that way…

      • SomeDude says:

        Problem: only those ads in the US generate revenue for AMC. The ads in Scandinavia, the UK or Europe don’t trickle back down to AMC. The commenter is right. In his case – so long as the cable bill is paid, AMC gets every single penny that AMC is going to get. The local ads he sees don’t pay AMC and most likely are in a different language than those originally broadcast by AMC. All AMC gets from Northern European broadcast is the fee that the cable company pays to gain access to the channel. No ad money travels upstream from Northern EU to AMC in the states.

      • jedi77 says:

        I agree, if I was in America. But I am in North Europe, I don’t have AMC. But I do have several other channels, that I pay a monthly fee for. And one of those show “The Walking Dead”.
        So, AMC have been paid a certain amount for those rights.
        And the channel gets my fees.
        Granted, the channel is probably subsidised by commercial breaks, like AMC, but I would skip or mute those anyway.
        So who am I really cheating?

      • Jason Oliveri says:

        Got it! So in this specific case, you’re not exactly cheating anyone in particular, but you’re a perfect example of the challenges networks and advertisers face today. Until the balance is tipped on revenue streams and networks are no longer reliant on advertising, they’ll continue to try to figure out ways to combat viewers missing these ads. We’ve already seen web streaming and on demand viewing where commercials can’t be skipped, and it’s only a matter of time until they implement ads that will pop up while people are time-shifting via DVR and the like. The last battle for them will be combating the pirates, and the only way they’ll be able to do that will be to offer something better and/or easier than torrenting. As I said in my original post, I’m all for trying to do the right thing, but when it makes it an explicit challenge to watch something the right way? They can’t possibly be surprised when they encounter viewers like us who seek out alternative means of viewing!

  5. SuperDave says:

    So a season premiere that had 16 million live viewers (and who knows how many L+7 viewers) “lost” 0.5 million to the Internet? Maybe not – how many of those “pirated” versions had seen it “Live”, but wanted to see it again or show it to their friends, who missed it? Sure, they might have watched it streaming from AMC’s website, but as Jayo! says, the streaming from that website is jittery and problematic. Really, what’s the difference between viewers who see the show delayed on the AMC website, and those who see it delayed on a bittorrent?

    • Jayo! says:

      Good points about why pirated views should most certainly NOT count as lost viewers. As far as why AMC would care about watching via torrent vs. legal means, that’s all about the ads. AMC is streaming the show complete with all the ads, pretty sure they’re the same ads as broadcast too. People watching pirated versions are probably watching ad-free torrents.

  6. Jayo! says:

    Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that streaming from AMC’s site is TERRIBLE?! I TRIED to do the right thing, but when it stalled halfway through the episode and nothing I could do would get it playing again (NOT my first experience like this with AMC’s website!) I resorted to not-entirely-legal means as well!

    These networks really need to get their acts together if they want to cut down on pirating, ESPECIALLY when they’re offering a service to people who are ALREADY subscribers! I’m looking at you too Showtime! HBO Go, Disney, Nick, Cartoon Network, these guys seem to have some decent episode streaming set up, why can’t the rest of you?

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