If piracy is a gauge of popularity, Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” second season is not as big a hit as “House of Cards” — and neither series holds a candle to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the world’s most-pirated TV show.
In the first two days of its release, “OITNB” season 2 episodes were being illegally downloaded by 55,668 individuals over peer-to-peer networks in the four biggest markets for piracy (U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia), according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. That’s up more than tenfold from 3,850 pirates for the first two days of the initial season of “Orange Is the new Black” last July, which is to be expected because the series didn’t build buzz for itself until later in its run.
Still, “OITNB” was outperformed by the sophomore debut of Netflix’s other notable original series, “House of Cards,” which was pirated by 90,841 people in the same four countries in the two days following its Feb. 14, 2014, premiere, Excipio data showed.
And neither Netflix series matches “Game of Thrones”: 1.17 million unique Internet addresses worldwide were downloading torrents of the HBO swords-and-dragons drama within 15 hours of the season 4 premiere episode appearing online, according to Excipio.
Netflix doesn’t disclose viewing figures, and piracy does not always align with how popular content is via legitimate channels. An analysis of social-media data last week indicated “OITNB” season 2 was garnering far more buzz than “Cards” 2.0, although it’s worth noting social chatter does not always translate into viewership.
Netflix execs have suggested that total “Orange Is the New Black” first-season viewership was tracking higher than season 1 of “House of Cards.” It’s possible that “Orange” is proving more popular in the U.S. than “Cards,” which may play better overseas; the majority of Netflix’s customers today are in the States.
HBO’s “GoT” wears the piracy crown partly because to get the premium cabler, consumers must have cable TV service, and also because new “Thrones” segments are not available immediately outside the U.S. On the other hand, Netflix is not currently available in Australia, which may spur disproportionately higher piracy Down Under of the company’s original series relative to the U.S., Canada and U.K.
Netflix has previously said that it takes “antipiracy measures similar to those that other content providers take.” The company also has disclosed that it monitors piracy to help determine what content will be popular in a given region, and Netflix also claims that piracy has dropped dramatically after it launches in a given country.
According to Germany-based Excipio, Netflix is not one of its clients.