Netflix's fourth season of "Arrested Development" was pirated a whopping 100,000 times in the first 24 hours after it premiered on Sunday, according to the website TorrentFreak, which monitors activity on torrent websites.
Though illegal downloads for "Arrested Development"
are far lower than the number of times HBO’s "Game of Thrones" season premiere was pirated two months ago – 1 million times, the most downloads ever — the number is a brisk rate by usual TV show standards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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Knowing their show would be widely pirated as it had been in its heydey, "Arrested Development" producers referenced it in the premiere. In a flashback to old episodes, a watermark was included in the middle of the screen that read, "Showstealer Pro Trial Version," in a joke that Netflix couldn't afford to license old clips so it had to steal old television clips.
Torrenting numbers are often cited as evidence of a service failure in some way, according to THR, but Netflix is a widely accessible service for U.S. residents. Its plans start at $7.99 a month, which is a bargain compared to iTunes and Amazon's $1.99 per episode services.
At the same time, HBO costs substantially more than Netflix — roughly double per month — which could explain why Game of Thrones was downloaded so much more than "Arrested Development."
Another irony in the torrent activity is that Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos said earlier this month that pirating is becoming less prevalent as Netflix continues to grow.
"BitTorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows," Sarandos told Stuff.tv.
BitTorrent promptly disputed the comment in a blog post titled "Reports of Our Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," in which the vice president dismissed Netflix is hurting BitTorrent's success
and that the two are competing.
"BitTorrent was designed to move data. It was not designed for piracy," VP Matt Mason wrote. "We are not competing with the likes of Netflix. We’re actually finding ways to support companies like them, content creators, studios, and other rights-holders directly.
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"Those who know us see us as champions of the Internet. Even Hollywood is realizing that we are not the Boogeyman, and we’re finding ways to work together," he added.
Last month, Netflix announced they are losing nearly 1,800 titles
, including 15 seasons of "South Park," old horror movies like "Audrey Rose," and James Bond classics like "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger," replacing the titles with more original programming.
According to Slate, the drop comes because several licensing deals Netflix has in place with studios like MGM, Warner Bros., and Universal are expiring.
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