Heroes was the Most Pirated Show of 2009

Way to go, kids! It's all your fault that Heroes will be canceled! Well, not really, but you're pushing it. According to the blog TorrentFreak, which reports on the Internet black market known as file-sharing, NBC's Heroes was the most illegally downloaded television show of 2009.

The stat shouldn't be taken as gospel, however, as the site merely lists the number of downloads for a show's most popular episode and not its entire season run (not to mention that it's tough to swallow empirical data from a site with "freak" in its name). Still, TorrentFreak claims that the most-pirated episode of Heroes (the particulars of the episode were not disclosed) was "stolen" approximately 6,580,000 times. That's over half a million more than the show's average TV audience.

Overall, sci-fi and action dominated the list of most-pirated shows, with Lost (6,310,000 downloads), Prison Break (3,450,000), Dexter (2,780,000), and House (2,590,000) rounding out the top five. Eight of the top ten entries were broadcast shows, and two were premium-cable shows (Dexter and no. 10 True Blood), indicating that TV piracy isn't committed primarily by those who don't want to pay extra for HBO and Showtime, but rather by those who don't want to pay for cable at all and are willing to watch on their dinky computer monitors.

And while online piracy is thought to be the realm of the male basement nerd, both Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives made the top ten list. Either female basement nerds are getting into the act too, or the guys out there are getting soft. That's what happens when you dudes gender-swap and level a female night elf to 70 in World of Warcraft.

Overall, the takeaway from these numbers isn't that there are millions of horrible people out there stealing TV (a large chunk of the downloads is thought to be from foreign markets that can't get the shows legally), it's this: Television viewing habits are changing. Networks shouldn't be looking for ways to stop illegal downloading, but rather to find a way to make it work to their advantage.

The list:
Show Title, Downloads of most-popular episode
1. Heroes, 6,580,000
2. Lost, 6,310,000
3. Prison Break, 3,450,000
4. Dexter, 2,780,000
5. House, 2,590,000
6. 24, 2,440,000
7. Desperate Housewives, 2,180,000
8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 1,960,000
9. Grey's Anatomy, 1,740,000
10. True Blood, 1,600,000

Comments (171)
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you know XenoLair, you've made a good point, that's something i'll never understand as well, if you can watch anything on Hulu, then why the hell are they complaining about everything.
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They call it stealing tv... Its free on TV for christ\'s sake! If we can watch it for free on tv why not download it for free? Its not like we\'re selling it to other people. And if its stealling, why the **** is hulu still online.
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For those people who have an Xbox 360, PS3, or PC!! then subscribe for Netflix, and you can watch any of these shows with no problem in HD 5.1 surround sound if you like.
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You know are people really that deluded to pirate these shows? I mean c'mon, obviously if you have the internet, then why not go to the network site like uhhh. ABC.com, and watch let's see "Lost", EVERY SEASON AND EPISODE FOR FREE!!



Are people really that dumb out there? Instead of Downloading wasting precious hard drive space, or wasting CD's you can burn music to play in your car(Not anymore really), you can stream it.



Any recent episode of Lost, that I may have missed on tv, then I'll just watch whatever episode it is, for free on ABC.com



Wow each one is over 9,000!!!! That's Flipping crazy.
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Not surprising since Heroes tends to attract a Gen X & younger audience who are net savvy.
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some of us don't live in USA to have the luxury to watch it on TV, so we must download it to watch it on our computers.
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I live in Australia, and I download shows as they are broadcast in the USA because I don't want to wait, or our local networks cancel them or put them on indefinite hiatus. But when they do eventually get released over here I buy them on DVD anyway because I like to have the higher quality. Surely that shouldn't be illegal.
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I live in Australia and one show I like to watch is Burn Notice, here network 10 (free to air) either have it on late at night, or half way through a season they stopped it and brought it back on months later. Not good enough for me sorry. So I downloaded the episodes I missed out on.

Now I don't share it or sell it, I use it for my own personal viewing, but I think studios need to jump on board. If they charged say 99 cents to download a 'older' episdoe and $2 for a new episode (or something cheap) I know I'd pay it to keep the shows going and so on. I have a DVD collection of over 3000 and 240+ blu-rays all original too and just on that note, I bought a 'limited edition' Saw DVD from the US and when I got it, it didn't play. The studio said 'to bad' and I'd have to buy another one. Crap I say, so I downloaded it off the net, after all I have the original. Not to happy about that and this is the reason for pirates.

I hope the studios that just care about their bottom line and not the consumer/show/advertisers die a slow death.

Just my 2 cents
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the networks are in a lose/lose situation. they could create their own torrent websites, with a catalog of all their past and present shows so that we're getting it from them - but that would cost too much. or they could continue to cancel shows because some of us cant watch our favourite tv shows when they air.
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add a comment
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HHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY SSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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Dont get me wrong i like heroes i've watched 3 seasons so far.. The problem with Heroes is because they are not actually heroes so to speak, they just go around messing things up and being all relationshippy, we need some kickass crime fighting too. The show needs to stop being a tease and build-up to nothing.
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Instead of fighting it, they really should work with it some how...Heroes for example....although that cant be the only reason that its getting canceled cuz all the other highly downloaded series aren't getting cut off yet. Its not about wanting to be illegal or not paying for anything...For goodness sakes its a TV show that is aired on National Free TV and like was stated anyone that has Internet has cable....triple plays and all that are usually cheaper. Plus i have seen some mighty fine Monitors in my time.. Its a convenience thing and all the online distributions put it up like 4 days later or on a 1 week delay or something....some people work and don't have the time to watch but also don't have the patience to wait...I'm mad Heroes is coming to an end but many shows i have loved have and I survived....Heroes has a pretty loyal fan base so instead of trashing it and starting a new show, they should find a way to work with the loyal fanbase to increase profit....but it prolly isnt that black and white and i dunno what goes on behind the scene....either way, point is...."it is what it is"....
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In a response to the legality of the files, the TV studios argue that its the unauthorized distribution of the content of copyrighted material that is illegal. It's because someone else is taking the material and distributing it. DVR/VCR is legal because they are the ones distributing it. I don't agree with this thought process, but my opinion doesn't count for anything in the eyes of a lawsuit.
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I use to be big in the download scene until I received a nasty copyright infringement letter from my cable company at the request of NBC threatening action if I was caught again. The show was the Office, which I owned on DVD only because I got hooked from the downloads. I've since stopped since its not worth the lawsuit. I still don't see anything wrong with it. It's a free show and they've made money off me as a result of buying shows that I enjoyed after downloading. Its a shame they don't want me to be newly introduced to more of their shows, but its their loss.



Use to use the MKV 720p files and streamed them over the PS3, which provided far superior quality to Hulu and the sort. Until companies provide an actual viable quality alternative to downloading, it will continue. But, I would propose supporting the torrents, advertising with them, an working out ways to use them to their advantage.
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"That's what happens when you dudes gender-swap and level a female night elf to 70 in World of Warcraft." Is this guy serious? Why is this guy so... angry? At apparently nothing?
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"...watch on their dinky computer monitors"

Really? I know heaps of people who download them and put them on either DVD or a hard drive/media player to watch on their televisions. You can even stream from your PC to a device like a PS3 and Xbox 360. These are features built into the devices too, so they're not techy/nerdy options at all.

Sounds like a biased article with some push from the big wigs.
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This article is a joke.
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1. Heroes, 6,580,000

2. Lost, 6,310,000

3. Prison Break, 3,450,000

4. Dexter, 2,780,000

5. House, 2,590,000

6. 24, 2,440,000

7. Desperate Housewives, 2,180,000

8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 1,960,000

9. Grey's Anatomy, 1,740,000

10. True Blood, 1,600,000 How many people in the united states and the world have cable tv??? Probably 1000 times more than these statistics, so whats that?????? these people make me sick!!
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All most everybody that has internet, as cable tv, so we have all that tv shows already!!! Lets see my case, I work by shifts, so I'm not able to watch the shows that I like, so what can I do?? I go to the internet and download the episodes and watch when I have time!Are these people trying to say that they are loosing money??!!I pay a lot of money for cable tv here in Portugal.
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tv.com is just towing the corporate line and kissing ass of the tv networks. This article is just a beat up about what the networks want tv.com to say. Whilst you may trust the show list the rest of the info is crap. People torrent for many reason and until networks accept this and co exist with torrenters, this uneasy relationship will flourish. If networks were smart they wouldn't stop it but garner a way to serve them better. But no that would take too much forthought and sense. Its easier to kill somthing than to coexist with it. Ignorance is bliss just ask the networks.
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@miless - of course it's not a black market. Nobody is getting paid to torrent TV shows. Black market implies a money exchange. And if it's free on the air and you can just hook up your TiVo to download and fast forward thru the ads how is that any different than downloading online? it really isn't. But then again I've not heard of many people getting in legal trouble for downloading TV shows either.
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Black market !? Seriously?
Isnt torrenting a show that already aired like watching the rerun in a way
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i could not agree more with 1gutsnglory1. right now in greece we DO NOT watch 7 out of the 10 shows you are talking about and we would pay REALLY pay to watch some of them. oh and house is in season 3....
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People seem to forget that there is close to 1.5 billion internet users out there, not everyone who downloads these shows have access to them via thier tv provider. When networks make these shows, they only care about the American viewer and how many Americans watch this show. As long as Americans watch these shows when they are broadcasted they show will continue regardless of how many people "pirated" the show.
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The article assumed that the people who downloaded the show didn't watch the television broadcast. There are a lot of people who collect digital video, in the same way that other people collect baseball cards or stamps. They download and archive their favorite shows, so they have the option of watching them some other time. Many of the people who buy the Heroes season DVD are upgrading the Xvids they got online.
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The solution to piracy is to sell the DVDs alot cheaper and alot earlier. People like instant gratification especially at affordable prices.
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You can't "pirate" a show that is broadcast for free over the air and paid for by advertising revenue. By the time the show is broadcast for free over the air, it is already paid. The idea of skipping ads has been around along time. Networks flipped about TiVo users skipping commercials too. That's why we have ads during the shows now at the bottom of the screen.

It is not illegal to download something is free. The show is freely broadcast unencrypted over the air. It is paid for by selling advertising. If the advertisers feel that they are not getting their money's worth, they will stop advertising. Only then will the show be pulled. People need to stop thinking that everything that is downloaded is "pirated" or "stolen". Television is now broadcast in digital hi-def with surround sound. If you can receive the broadcast, the picture is perfect and there is no need to pay a middle man (cable company) to deliver the channel. Downloading a free show is no different than recording it and watching later.
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As for "dinky little t.v.'s"? I'm sorry but I can play all that content using a portable usb drive, a stick, or stream it from my computer directly to a 360 or ps3, whereupon I can watch the show in full HD glory on my 37" LCD.
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Considering that I'm already overpaying for cable and don't even get the food network as part of my basic cable package (that's $42.00/mo, mind you), I'm entitled to some premium t.v. episodes.

Comcast shafts me, I shaft them back.
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add a commentA huge reason for pirating is the fact that when you live in anotjher country you have to wait at least 2 months before watching the show, but by downloading online I can keep up like vereyone else in USA. Why should I wait for months when I can watch it the next day? I mean I already pay for the extra channels that show these shows in my country and I always buy the original dvd once they are out but I dont wanna wait months for it. So maybe downloading them is an option. Not that I do it :)))
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Heroes the most pirated show; so what?

The question is: why do people download?

Because:
- behind US schedule (weeks or months later in other countries)?
- choose your own time to watch the show?
- HD quality instead of SD on TV?
- for free to download (almost)?
- avoiding the annoying commercials?

And the next question is: why are the TV-stations against downloading? - money
- money
- money

What are the most important incomes that TV-stations earn their money on?:
- commercials
- selling DVD/Blu-rays
- selling merchandise

And what can be done to get this downloaders stop doing it?
- make/keep it illegal to download?
- stop the commerials?
- on demand watching?
- ...

I think it is time for the TV-stations to realize there is no stopping the downloading by putting it into illegal corner.

The TV-stations have to think about earning their money on another way then with commercials.

How then? Maybe it is time to change the way of how the TV-stations are organized and think of a new way to 'air' the shows.

Well who is the first with a good idea?
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Another reason people might prefer to download shows: I live in Germany where not only are there many shows not shown at all and those that are shown are way behind, they also get dubbed into German. I find that impossible to watch (some shows just don't respond well to translation; The Simpson's are a case in point; I assume this is why Flight of the Conchords and Curb Your Enthusiasm haven't made it to the German networks and probably never will). It's impossible to get the originals here, save on DVD. But, to be honest, who wants to wait until a show is available on DVD and then buy an expensive UK import? I suppose there are copyright issues (and the German networks probably wouldn't like it all that much if the shows they bought were available for legal download in Germany). But if they could get around it somehow, I'd be happy to watch as many ads as they would like me to in order to be able to watch my favourite TV shows close to their US air dates and undubbed.
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I recently moved to Australia and found I have reduced my downloading exponentially because you guys are pretty up to date. NZ is always close to half a season behind, and often won't get shows at all. I'd be happy to watch it, ads and all if it was available. With the internet now, people don't want to be a mile behind the rest of the world when a spoiler is just a click away. WAKE UP AND EMBRACE IT PEOPLE. CHANGE WITH THE TIMES.
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I live in Qatar now and missed all the great US shows until I found torrents. We have a computer hooked up to our big TV and watch everything from a harddrive. However, even when we return to the US, we will never go back to watching commercials and worrying about the network schedules. On Demand and Commercial free is King!
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I don't even watch TV much, when i do I watch cartoons and fall asleep. I've never downloaded a single show in my life.even if i did, it's not like those television show make millions every year...
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well when i come home from a day of work to find out i missed heroes what am i gonna do? pray that i see it on tv? not likely, i just borrow it from a friend via torrents and share with the rest of the people who missed it
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I just think that TV production companies are completely missing the boat when it comes to new media revenue models. I know that prime-time TV with advertising is the traditional way of doing things but I think that more direct online distribution channels to a worldwide audience is the wave of the future. I think people would pay to subscribe to a season of a particular show or pay per episode if the fee is right and the downloads are high quality and made available the same time as being aired. I would actually watch more shows legally if the quality was higher and I didn't have to wait a week or more after the show airs to watch it streaming on hulu or the network's website. it is just greed, short-sightedness and being locked in to the old way of doing things...this is what killed the CD medium which has somewhat successfully been replaced by MP3s. I hope networks wake up and realize that there are alternative revenue streams and then they can embrace those who download instead of demonize us. as many have pointed out it is not much different to download a show than to TiVO it and fast forward thru the ads.
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netgoddess you are right on. I enjoy my shows online now and refrain from paying for satelllite. I can't justify a service that will only show up half the time, so yes, but I watch my shows legally online, no downloading. I just don't know about subscriber services like that but it is surely the wave of the near future.
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so if I record heroes on my TiVo, I got a copy of the show.. Now, If the TiVo Fks up and don't record it, I can download it.. What's the difference? You don't get paid for these "copies", except from the time we watched it the first time on TV. All you have to do is connect with a European TV Marketing company and start making European ads, that way you can air the shows in Europe as well, then you would make more money. Kind of what you have done in the UK - with shows from the US, all of Europe speaks English.
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Great comment from Canada.. We here in Canada would love to watch our shows online from the actual providers like NBC, CBS, ABC Etc... but due to American and Canadian laws we have to wait till our networks Global, CityTV, CTV etc.. put them up and they never put up much of the good ones.. sure we have house, the good wife, NCIS, NCIS LA.. but TV in Canada is becoming a joke.. one year house is on Rogers on Demand the next year (6) it is not.. Last Year no Grey's Anatomy anywhere after the show is aired in all time zones and this year on demand.. and what is with CityTV leaving the commercials in the on demand stuff while Global takes that time to leave them out.. This is why people pirate shows.. if Television Stations could get their act together and work as a team we would be a lot better off and a lot further ahead. The computer and the TV have been merging for a long long time and now is the time to get our act together and realize that most of us want our shows online or on demand (TV or Web) wake up networks and realize this.

Just one mans opinion
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Well not everyone who downloads is a male nerd living in a basement addicted to WoW. I'm guilty of downloading 7 of the top 10 shows listed and I have a big screen plasma TV with a media center. When shows get released in real-time and high quality on an ad-less medium like Netflix downloads then I'll definitely go legit, but when I can grab a 720p show within 30 minutes of airing and watch it ad-free it is really hard for me to justify paying out $80/mo for cable or satellite. Bring me ad-free video-on-demand with the convenience of piracy and I'll gladly pay out $15 or $20 a month for it or say no more than $1 per episode perhaps with a $15 subscription for a whole season of a show. Yes I am slightly evil for contributing to show cancellations by not getting measured in the ad demographic...but the entire business model should be re-evaluated. What iTunes has done for CDs so too should new online services do for TV. Hulu is a good start but the quality isn't there and you're still stuck with ads...I'm not a casual viewer, and am willing to pay for quality content to nix the ads, as long as the fees are reasonable.
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Australia definitely makes a big impact on these figures, everyone here downloads, because we don't want to wait a year to watch them at 11:30 at night
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I know people from Australia have already complained that we have to download shows if we want to see them in any decent time frame, sometimes if we want to see them at all. But do people from other countries realise that we have to pay for our downloads anyway. I pay $70 a month to get 20Gb of downloads, when I reach this quota, I start getting charged at rediculous rates (15c per Mb). So this means that I would pay about $1.40 per episode (if I were to download the lowest quality torrents). I always have the option of downloading the shows from iTunes, but then I'd have to pay for the episode and the download. Even to buy the shows on dvd or blue-ray we have to wait until the season has been aired in full before it's released. The first season of Castle, for example, won't be released until March, and season 8 of Smallville has no official release date yet, and I'm sure there are worse examples.

Anyway, back to the article, I can understand why there are so many "illegal" downloads of these shows.

And by the way, I'm a woman, and according you, Mr Surette, it would be amazing that I can even figure out how to make this comment.
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how can they call pirated on internet when everybody can record them on their own tv.......stupid
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It's you that Cnet should fired not Jeff Gerstmann.
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Tim Surette you're an idiot.
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It's also one of the those shows that now stuck on the beaten path and people HAD to watch.
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@Selaspy: if you wouldn't pay a cheap $0.50 for DRM-free 720p HDTV .mp4 H264 L4.1/DD5.1 encoded content for each episode and you prefer lower quality DRM driven streaming with ads episodes for free.. then you don't like to watch tv series at an high quality and you prove multinational managers that you are a pirate. It's fair for them to sell episodes to make a profit and as long as they would be changing their current policies by delivering episodes at 720p HDTV at $0.50 and the paid amount used as a discount over the Blu-Ray disc release then I can't see how anyone would not just buy it. A typical tv series season comprises 20episodes on average approx so it would be just $10 a season for immediate DRM-free 720p downloads to be played on any player like a PS3, XBox360 or PC and so on... and if then the season would be sold for like $40 on Blu-Ray and the $10 paid for downloading being discounted for those willing to have the 1080p higher bitrate Blu-Ray release... it would be a real bargain for customers/viewers and a huge profit for multinationals/studios.
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