Game of Thrones season finale was the most pirated TV episode of 2013

The closing show of Netflix hit Breaking Bad was a close runner-up

The season three finale of fantasy drama Game Of Thrones was the most pirated television show of 2013, with 5.9 million individual illegal downloads via BitTorrent.

The show, from US network HBO, topped the list for the second year running, beating the five season closure of Netflix hit Breaking Bad, which notched up 4.2 million pirate downloads.

According to Torrent Freak, more than half of the Game Of Thrones downloads occurred in the first week after the show was broadcast, with the show breaking a record when 170,000 shared a copy of the episode at the same time.

Within just 24 hours, unauthorised copies of the finale had been downloaded over a million times.

Surprisingly, Game of Thrones director David Petrarca seems unbothered by the piracy tainting his show, having previously claimed to be thankful for the “cultural buzz” it helped generate.

The CEO of HBO's parent company Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes, even said that being the most pirated television show was "better than an Emmy".

HBO prefers to keep its content exclusive, which leads to a possible explanation for its high pirating rates. Similarly, CBS [behind The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother] has similarly restrictive streaming rules.

The most pirated TV shows by most downloaded episode:

1. Game of Thrones (5.9m)

2. Breaking Bad (4.2m)

3. The Walking Dead (3.6m)

4. The Big Bang Theory (3.4m)

5. Dexter (3.1m)

6. How I Met Your Mother (3m)

7. Suits (2.6m)

8. Homeland (2.4m)

9. Vikings (2.3m)

10. Arrow (2.2m)