The Walking Dead’s unaired season opener is already being pirated

The Walking Dead is a show that its creators know full well will appear on pirate sites before long. But even the most jaded of TV producers would have been surprised at the speed at which series nine’s mid-season opener appeared on Torrent sites: it’s available to download before even hitting TV screens.

That’s not thanks to a leak from the studio, but almost certainly down to TV network AMC, which offered it to subscribers of its AMC Premiere service ahead of schedule.

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Those paying $4.99 per month were allowed to watch the new episode a week early, on demand and with no ads. This paid ad-free experience may now have a knock-on effect to viewing figures of the ad-packed airing of the show on Sunday, as pirates get their early fix.

As TorrentFreak notes, the episode – S09E09, or ‘Adaption’ – is up for grabs on a number of torrent and streaming sites, and most copies are cited as “WEBRIP”, meaning they almost certainly come from AMC’s paid service.

How much damage this could do to AMC is, of course, impossible to measure. Not only is it very hard to assess traffic to these sites, but it’s also impossible to put a number on how many people who would otherwise be watching it for the first time on Sunday will now stay away.

What we do know is that The Walking Dead is immensely popular with pirates, proving to be the most illegally downloaded show of 2018, pipping The Flash and The Big Bang Theory to the dubious top spot.

Still, a win is a win, as the official Walking Dead account on Twitter noted:

Whether it’ll retain its crown as the most pirated show of 2019 depends in part on the quality of the series. A series opener is bound to have high ratings whether official or through pirate means – the real test is whether it’s still doing the numbers by the finale.

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