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Despite global release, Breaking Bad still heavily pirated

There’s long been talk that the world of piracy would basically crumble if desired content is made universally available, and that users won’t flock to pirated media if they are able access the content through legal channels. Even promising research from Sweden indicates that users will snap in line if the legitimate option was good enough.

But despite the fact that AMC deliberately distributed its hit show Breaking Bad worldwide within hours of its U.S. premiere, the file is set to break a record for illegal downloads on BitTorrent. Maybe old habits die hard?

According to research by TorrentFreak, about half a million people snagged an illegal download of Breaking Bad’s newest episode within 12 hours of the file hitting BitTorrent. The popularity of the file actually has the momentum to break the series’ own record for illegal downloads from last year, which currently stands at more than 2.5 million.


The biggest offenders were actually countries where the episode was available quickly through paid services. The country with the lion’s share of downloads, Australia, could view the episode via paid network FoxTel. The UK scored a deal from Netflix to make the episode available just a few hours after U.S. airing. Even the fifth-place country, the Netherlands, had the Breaking Bad premiere hours before it hit American televisions.

It seems that while AMC had good intentions of making its content available, distribution over legal channels is just one half of the accessibility equation. People simply don’t like paying for content, or to adopt a costly subscription service or cable channel to watch the final episodes of their favorite series. The increased piracy could also be related to the timing of distribution announcements — that users could neither gain nor switch to the premium services necessary to watch Breaking Bad in time for its premiere. They would rather not miss a minute of Walt’s scary science, and perhaps more will adopt legal channels down the road.

That, or people just love to torrent out of habit. In any case, AMC’s treatment is a move in the right direction for cable channels, there just needs to be more like it.

5 Responses to “Despite global release, Breaking Bad still heavily pirated”

  1. g2-9a7d8c03ab9705dddb544cd3c5d9652d

    The problem is that they don’t put it out there fast enough. I bought it on Itunes and have a Netflix account, but I still downloaded it on Bittorrent, because I didn’t want to wait.

  2. James McMillan

    Like some of the other comments, many fans who pirate the episodes do it just to get it as soon as possible, but many do pay for it later when it becomes available legally – I’m sure BitTorrent has actually increased the number of fans of breaking bad abroad, especially in the uk where seasons 2-5A where never shown anywhere. In fact, if they made it so that the fastest way to watch the episode was to pay for it via itunes or a netflix subscription – i.e. it was made immediately available – then way more people would (there were tons of fans who woke up at 3am in the uk to watch it on netflix, but it turned out we had to wait until 9am – netflix couldn’t gen tell people how long it would take for the episode to come on, an insane PAID service!).

    It’s just ridiculous that torrenting the episodes still remains the quickest and easiest option than something you have to pay for. If this situation occured in ANY other industry, they would be forced to actually make the paid option just as good as if not better than the free one.

  3. Lachlan

    In Australia, people subscribing to Foxtel is VERY uncommon, unlike America, cable tv Foxtel is only Available through one provider as an add on, majority of tv shows air on free tv channels

  4. Hek Frias

    I live in Canada, paid for the iTunes season pass, but could not wait until the next day to watch the episode. Live release of content could be the solution.