'Breaking Bad' Finale Illegally Downloaded More Than 500,000 Times in 12-Hour Period

The episode is the most pirated show of the series.
A scene from the final episode of "Breaking Bad"

More than half a million people have already downloaded the final episode of Breaking Bad through torrent sites, a record number for the AMC series.

According to TorrentFreak, what has happened online in the first 12 hours after the episode aired is unprecedented for the hit drama. TorrentFreak also reports that the series is a contender for being the year's most pirated TV show.

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The largest share of downloads came from Australia. With 18 percent of the total, the country Down Under outpaced the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. According to one Australian TV blog, Breaking Bad is just about to air the second part of its final season next week on ABC2. Some fans might not have been able to wait.

Although platforms like Netflix have spread the availability of TV shows, not everyone around the world gets to see on-air telecasts at the same time.

To point to another popular show, the new season of Downton Abbey has already had its premiere in the U.K. but won't air in the U.S. until January.

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Is Downton Abbey available somewhere out there already? Yes, likely. Sensitive that early consumption of Downton Abbey might dent its U.S. viewership a few months from now, NBCUniversal recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to one website that had the temerity to point fans to ways that they might watch the new season now.

Sony Pictures Television could likewise make a stink about how torrent downloads of Breaking Bad could erode Australian viewership. A copyright lawsuit is possible, although it's probably too late to make it a trade secret case. Bloomberg recently took a look at the immense secrecy of the finale episode -- including actors getting redacted scripts -- and had an attorney guessing that leaked information about the finale could meet the criteria of being a trade secret.