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Although it’s certainly a dubious honour, it turns out that Apple TV+ has made it onto the list of the most pirated shows for 2021 — the first time since the service launched in 2019 that one of Apple’s original shows has been popular enough that torrent users have been seeking it out.
The show that vaulted Apple onto the list was none other than Foundation, its popular series loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s trilogy of the same name.
According to Torrenfreak (via 9to5Mac), Foundation came in seventh place, behind a slew of Disney+ titles that were led by Wandavision. At third place, Netflix’s The Witcher broke up the Disney+ run, which also included Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, and What If?
Coming in just behind Foundation was Rick and Morty, which appears on the Cartoon Network, Netflix, and HBO Max, followed by Netflix’s Arcane and Amazon’s Wheel of Time — another fantasy title based on a popular book series that has the potential to rise in acclaim.
High Expectations for Foundation
While it’s perhaps a bit surprising that Foundation beat out Ted Lasso, considering the latter’s overwhelming popularity, it’s fair to say that the high-profile sci-fi series hasn’t exactly slouched in the ratings or critical reviews either.
In fact, Foundation is arguably the most highly anticipated series on Apple TV+. News that Apple was working on the ambitious project first appeared in 2018, sparking off a round of speculation whether the tech giant could actually pull it off.
After all, there’s far more to creating a hit show than merely throwing money at it, so even with Apple’s extremely deep pockets, success was far from guaranteed. In fact, many writers have tried their hand at translating Asimov’s complex galaxy-sprawling work onto the big screen, and even HBO couldn’t figure out how to develop it into a series.
So, there was a healthy dose of skepticism as to what Foundation would turn out to be. If Apple could make it happen, it had the potential to become a “Game of Thrones moment,” for the nascent streaming giant. Expectations ran high, and that undoubtedly left many people wanting to take a look, including those who were unwilling or unable to watch it directly on Apple TV+.
The jury is still out on whether Apple will be able to parlay the first season into something quite as grand as GoT, but it’s clearly off to a good start. Executive producer David S. Goyer has taken some pretty big liberties in translating Asimov’s work into film, so purist fans of Asimov’s novels may have come away disappointed.
Ultimately, however, the changes made in Goyer’s adaptation were necessary, and in retrospect made it apparent why those versions that tried to follow the original narrative too closely ultimately died on the table.
Still, this places Foundation in pretty good company, as Torrentfreak notes that Game of Thrones consistently topped this list for several years in a row, until the year after the series was cancelled.
A Fragmented Streaming Landscape
Torrentfreak also notes that many more people are searching for popular streaming titles these days, rather than just hit theatrical releases. Although this could also be skewed by the global health crisis we’ve all been facing over the past couple of years, the site also attributes it to subscription fatigue.
At one time, Netflix was arguably the only streaming service most folks needed, but as others like Disney+ have spun up their own services, and Apple has started producing original content, it’s no longer possible to find everything you want in one place. This leads to either juggling multiple subscriptions, or sticking with the one or two that offer the majority of the content you want, while acquiring shows from others through torrent sites.
However, Torrentfreak’s stats only measure actual BitTorrent traffic, which these days doesn’t account for a large portion of the piracy landscape. Many folks now stream their pirated content from services like Kodi, which generally don’t share viewing statistics.