‘Breaking Bad’ Piracy Rates Soar Fivefold After 2014 Emmy Wins

Breaking Bad

HBO's 'Game of Thrones' remains most-pirated TV show, according to CEK Tek data

The strong showing by “Breaking Bad” at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards — including its win for best drama series — prompted thousands of pirates to take to their computers and download full seasons of the show, as well as other winners and nominees from the Emmys’ big night.

The number of unique users illegally sharing “Breaking Bad” on the Internet jumped 412% last week, following the Emmys telecast Monday, according to data from antipiracy firm CEG Tek Intl. For the week of Aug. 17-22, the average daily users sharing episodes of the show was 27,587 — climbing more than five times that to 141,334 last week, according to the company. “Breaking Bad,” which concluded its run on AMC last fall, stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul (pictured above) and Anna Gunn, each of whom won Emmys in their respective categories (actor, supporting actor and supporting actress in a drama).

Meanwhile, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” retained the crown as the No. 1 pirated show, with an average of 296,734 daily users pirated the series last week (up 36% from the week before the Emmys), despite being shut out in major categories.

The surge in “Breaking Bad” piracy is notable particularly because the entire series is currently available on Netflix’s relatively low-cost streaming service in multiple countries. That weakens the claim that piracy behavior is primarily driven by the lack of availability through legitimate avenues — and instead shows that pirates are motivated by getting something for nothing.

SEE ALSO: ‘Breaking Bad’ Creator Vince Gilligan: Piracy Boosted Show’s Popularity

Indeed, even Netflix — which failed to take home statues in any of the major Emmy categories — was the target of pirates following the kudocast. Daily users illegally sharing “Orange Is the New Black” rose 30% last week (to 81,298 worldwide) while the number of “House of Cards” pirates shot up more than four times (to 56,881) following the Emmys.

The latest data calls to mind Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ off-the-cuff quip last year that piracy of “Game of Thrones” was “better than an Emmy” because it drove buzz about the show, and generated broader interest in the premium cabler. “Breaking Bad” showrunner Vince Gilligan also has credited piracy with attracting more fans to the drama on AMC.

To track piracy, L.A.-based CEG Tek uses proprietary detection software that includes the ability to monitor illegal downloads without actively participating in peer-to-peer networks. According to CTO Jon Nicolini, rather than estimate or extrapolate infringing activity, CEG Tek uses direct measurement by connecting to every detected peer.

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  1. Brad Majors says:

    Wrong! Downloading is not illegal. Nobody has been charged let alone prosecuted for downloading.

    What is illegal is uploading/sharing your copy with more than real friends and family.

  2. camelle cunnington says:

    people choosibg to download the show illegally instead of paying for netflix does NOT mean they simply want something for nothing. they want to watch the show on their terms, which is not something you can do on netflix. you canot watch netflix without an online connection. and that show will not be available forever on netflix. if you own the series you can watch it whenever you want. they don’t necessarily want something for nothing, but may not be able to afford the $374 it would cost to buy the show on amazon.com.

    also there is no solution for downloading things directly to your computer legally and being able to watch them whenever you want on whatever computer short of buying a “combo pack” which often has a blu-ray, dvd and digital copy. if you only want the digital copy the other two are a waste. amazon prime is a joke unless you have a Kindle Fire, and iTunes only lets you upload things that you bought to five computers. which sounds awesome until you download it to your phone, tablet, desktop and laptop and then have to replace them all. there is something to be said for having a film/ series saved on a thumbdrive.

    i’m not saying piracy is right, but saying people who “illegally download” just want something for nothing is unfair.

    • Right, there’s a different pricing model for titles in portable vs. streaming formats. You’re saying that if someone disagrees with that strategy, it’s OK to take a TV show or movie without paying. And that’s theft.

      • Someguy says:

        It’s not theft!!! More like borrowing just as you do at a Library, which btw you could get good new movies there.

  3. WalterWhite says:

    Who doubled this guys pay cheque to write this dribble?

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