Pirates have swarmed all over “Gotham,” the Batman prequel series that debuted on Fox last week, giving it the dubious distinction of far exceeding file-sharing activity of any other new fall TV show.
From Sept. 17 to Sept. 29, the pilot episode of “Gotham” was downloaded via torrent networks worldwide 1.33 million times, with 600,000 of those coming a day after its season premiere last Monday, according to data provided by piracy-tracking firm Excipio.
That was more than five times any of this season’s other freshman U.S. TV series. Of the six top-rated fall premieres from last week, ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” clocked in with 259,432 downloads over the same period, per Excipio’s analysis. That was followed by CBS’s “Madam Secretary” (195,528), CBS’s “Scorpion” (168,091), NBC’s “The Mysteries of Laura” (100,792) and ABC’s “Black-ish” (45,476).
The popularity of “Gotham” among pirates spanned the globe, with the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Brazil and Canada representing the five biggest markets. That reflects the appeal of the Batman superhero franchise worldwide, as well as the fact that sci-fi and fantasy genres are a big draw for pirates.
The international piracy of “Gotham” has implications for Netflix, which struck a deal with Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution for rights to stream the show in all global territories (including Australia) after the first season concludes its broadcast run. While piracy doesn’t help Netflix’s business, the data illustrates people outside the U.S. are interested in the show; the company in the past has said it uses piracy stats as part of determining what content to license.
Asked for comment about the “Gotham” piracy data, Fox said in a statement: “This report underscores the need for effective intellectual property protections. Simply put, pirating TV shows threatens the rights of everyone within the creative community, puts real jobs at risk and endangers our ability to continue producing this quality content.” A rep for Warner Bros. declined to comment.
Piracy of the premiere ep of “Gotham” even topped perennial pirate favorites including “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” — even though far more episodes of those shows are floating around on file-swapping sites. Over the 13-day period measured, “Gotham” came in No. 4, not far behind “Sons of Anarchy” (1.43 million), “Under the Dome” (1.40 million) and “The Big Bang Theory” (1.38 million), according to Excipio. “GoT” registered 1.10 million and “Walking Dead” was at 777,835.
It’s worth noting that the 177,000-plus downloads of “Gotham” occurred in the U.S., even though full episodes of the show are available in the States to stream next day on Fox.com and the broadcaster’s Fox Now services for free (without requiring pay-TV authentication).
“Gotham,” which stars Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue and Jada Pinkett Smith, covers the untold origin stories of characters from the Batman universe when the yet-to-be-superhero still a child.
One silver lining for Fox and Warner Bros.: The pilot was finished in May, and avoided any leaks onto piracy sites until it aired on TV.