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

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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