If ever an honor could be described as dubious, this is the one. HBO has beaten out AMC for the second year in row for an honor no broadcast company could want: owners of the most pirated TV show of the year.
The ultra-popular Game of Thrones beat out similarly beloved shows like Breaking Bad to become the most pirate TV show of 2013, continuing its reign from last year. Though some 5.4 million viewers tune into the show on average, Game of Throne’s season 3 finale saw nearly 6 million downloads—half a million more viewers than watch the show in real time.
This year’s other highly anticipated finale for Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad nabbed 4.2 million downloads, putting it at a distant second to the powerhouse that is Game of Thrones. However, the Breaking Bad episode in question garnered 10.28 million viewers, so it’s pretty clear where audience loyalties lie (and how restrictive HBO’s rates are).
But while Game of Thrones got ransacked online this year, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo calls the piracy “a compliment of sorts” that proves Game of Thrones is a “wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
So, you know, feel free to encourage the guy all you want. Because in 2013, piracy is the sincerest form of flattery.