Though we at SYFY WIRE obviously do not encourage or condone it, media pirating is usually a pretty solid indication of what the internet is watching outside of traditional Nielsen ratings and the sometimes-odd user data generated by streaming services themselves. Yes, we have ways of knowing what people are watching on the services they pay for, but tracking what people are deliberately seeking out and pirating is also a very clear sign of what shows are gaining the most traction online, and one of the ways we know this is that series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have consistently dominated the torrenting charts.
Now, more than a year after Game of Thrones wrapped up its run on HBO, there's a new streaming king in town.
Over the holidays TorrentFreak released its annual list of the most-pirated TV and streaming series, and revealed that 2020's piracy topper was The Mandalorian, Disney+'s acclaimed and much-memed live-action Star Wars series about the adventures of a helmeted bounty hunter and his adopted green son. The series premiered late in 2019 with the launch of the Disney+ service, and finished out last year as TorrentFreak's third most-pirated series, in part thanks to a lack of international availability for Disney+ at the time of the launch.
As recently as this summer, Game of Thrones was still topping piracy lists amid quarantine binge-watching, but the second-season launch of The Mandalorian back in October, coupled with a continued lack of international streaming options for Star Wars fans in some countries, meant that torrenters finally seemed ready to leave Westeros behind. In fact, Game of Thrones doesn't even crack the Top 10 on TorrentFreak's final 2020 list.
Other mainstays were still there, though, including The Walking Dead (seventh most-pirated), Vikings (fourth most-pirated), Rick and Morty (sixth most-pirated), Arrow (ninth most-pirated) and The Flash (tenth most-pirated). The other four entries on the list were all shows that either premiered in 2020 or had never made the list before, including The Boys (second), Westworld (third), Star Trek: Picard (fifth), and The Outsider (eighth). It was a year for staying in and watching shows, so it makes sense that torrenters were willing to try out some new stuff.
To see the full list, check out TorrentFreak's report.