Did pirates kill Hannibal?

With more than 2 million viewers watching illegally, producer says pirates were partly responsible for hundreds of crew members losing their jobs and the show's axing.


Hannibal ended in part because of online piracy, according to executive producer Martha De Laurentiis.

The series starring Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen ended after three seasons. Now in an open letter on The Hill, De Laurentiis said “one third” of viewers used pirated sites.

“When NBC decided not to renew Hannibal for a fourth season, it wasn’t much of a leap to connect its fate with the fact that the show was ranked as the fifth-most illegally downloaded show in 2013,” she wrote.

“When nearly one third of the audience for Hannibal is coming from pirated sites – despite the fact that a legitimate download for each episode was available the following day – you don’t have to know calculus to do the math. If a show is stolen, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fairly compensate a crew and keep a series in production.

“Did pirates kill Hannibal? Unfortunately, that is a cliffhanger that might last for a while.

“With more than 2 million viewers watching our show illegally, it’s hard not to think online pirates were, at the very least, partly responsible for hundreds of crew members losing their jobs and millions of fans – who watched the show legitimately – mourning the loss of a beloved program.

“As I said, this isn’t just about me. This is about the livelihoods of thousands upon thousands of hardworking people who help enrich the lives of millions of fans of films and TV shows. When the plundering is done, even the pirates will have nothing left to watch, let alone steal. That is a dark future I will do my best — as a producer and a fan — to make sure [it] never arrives at a laptop near you.”

19 Responses

  1. I personally loved this show but I was pleasantly surprised it got two renewals. While I understand De Laurentiis point the fact is this show wasn’t rating spectacularly and it was polarising. You either understood the show or you didn’t. Anyone who read the novels would understand why the show was made the way it was. It really represented the psyche of Hannibal Lector. I think this is one of those shows that really should have been produced by a streaming service like Netflix as they can afford to do unusual shows that have a devoted but lower number of audience.

  2. No, pirates weren’t the reason. Some basic analysis would tell anyone that bothered to do 3 minutes of research that the show was a ratings disaster. That is the reason it was cancelled.

  3. Utter claptrap. Firstly, where did these numbers come from? How can anyone accurately count how many times a program is pirated? There are more pirate sites than there are stars in the sky.

    Secondly, Hannibal was a very polarising show. The slow pace, the dream sequences (for lack of a better phrase) and the increasingly graphic “slaughter porn” (again, how else do I describe it?) and gory moments were turning viewers off. But sure, blame the nameless, faceless pirates rather than your own poor production choices.

      1. Torrent Freak frequently put out these lists. But the question still remains, how do they get these numbers? Considering how many people use VPN’s and IP blockers, not to mention the shear number of illegal downloading sites out there to track (if that’s even possible) any figures would be, at best, a wild guess.

        Also, are these numbers independently verified? Or is this just some website publishing wild stories as clickbait? It does make you wonder.

        1. Blockers and VPNs hide your location, they don’t stop torrenting sites from recognising when a file is being downloaded it the seeding/peering rate. The lists Torrent Freak produce are pretty accurate, the majority of torrenting is done from a handful of sites. The most popular torrents are at the top – you could retrospectively write the TV highlights for the week based on the torrent positions. Torrent Freak isn’t ‘just some website’ when it comes to file sharing, it’s the bible.

  4. Ultimately, i daresay the majority of people don’t mind paying for quality shows at the same time as its original release… I (more than) happily renewed my netflix subscription for this month, for House of Cards, may keep it for April as I expect to watch some things but beyond that… Thrones, etc. is on Foxtel.

    Sooner the FTA channels start getting the idea let alone treat their audiences with respect. We live in a digital world, surely they know if a non-live show will start and finish at a set time… the number of times i’ve missed the end of an episode, even with a buffer, because… its starting at 855 or 915 instead of the advertised time.

    I have little sympathy for them and hope that I could speak for most in that people don’t have an issue paying to access shows…just at the same time as the rest of the world does… not this…

  5. The biggest losses of revenue to FTA networks has been from the twin tuner DVR with simultaneous play back, the reduction in ad rates because of the arrival of internet advertising and people simply not bothering to watch FTA because cable and the internet give consumers more choices.

  6. This show was disgusting and gross as Michael Young said. When the Asian main character scientist lady got dismembered and pulled apart into six glass slides and you saw her insides drained of blood that’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen on TV. Game of Thrones and Walking Dead have absolutely nothing on the gore and darkness of this show. Who in their right mind would want to watch that??

    I’m not surprised it got canceled. There were also many people who liked this show that said season three was awful and slow paced

  7. That’s a false equivalency – one third audience watches via piracy = the show dies. Those people may not have been potential ‘purchasers’ anyway and also, some may have gone onto buy it after viewing. As others have pointed out, the most pirated shows in the world have constant season renewals. Perhaps the industry will move forward, stop whining about piracy and learn how to curb it with carrots not sticks if they got people under 40 to advise them. The older industry folk cannot handle the fact they may need to change their thinking and current business models. (I’m over 40 so I’m not trying to be ageist!). I wonder about the eps availability the next day, surely that can’t be global and suggesting that one day isn’t long to wait shows how out of touch she is.

  8. There’s a moral in this: You’re too childish, impatient, and entitled to wait to watch a show legally, by whatever means. You lose your show altogether. (All the people working on it lose their jobs, and some no doubt their houses. That’s their problem, you say.)

  9. I stopped watching because it was just too gross.
    As for the “pirates killed Hannibal” claim … the 2 million who downloaded and watched it illegally most likely would never have seen it any other way, so counting them as legitimate viewers is wrong and only useful for pointing the blame away from the failures of the production and the poor decisions of the networks that screen it.
    Many of those “illegal viewers” may have also bought it now on DVD which, again, they would never have done if they had not seen it via download first.

    1. That’s not true to say they could not have watched it any other way. Hannibal has screened on Foxtel, and later on Seven. Her argument also pertains to a global situation, and not even I am across how quickly it airs in multiple territories.

      1. He wouldn’t, not couldn’t. FTA networks get money from ad revenue. So it’s how many would have watched ads in the show if they hadn’t illegally downloaded it not how many downloaded it. Recording it and watching it 4 days later would result in the same loss of revenue in the US, but be totally legal, even within 3 days and skipping the ads means less revenue to the network in the long term.

        Hard core fans may download a copy to watch it ASAP to avoid being spoiled, then buy the DVD later to collect and own the right to watch it any time, some may only get into the show because of the illegal downloads and buy it later.

  10. That’s a long bow to draw and De Laurentiis is using outdated data. 2013? Hannibal doesn’t even make the Top 10 for 2014 or 2015 so perhaps people are just no longer into it. The show went from 4.3M viewers for S1E1 in 2013, to 2.6M for S3E1, to 1.2M for S3E13 (final ep). Perhaps she should look at the quality of the writing instead of trying to shift the blame onto an easy target?

    Plus, there are plenty of shows that have been Top 5 downloads for years and they’re still going strong – Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Big bang Theory, as well as relative newcomers such as Arrow, The Flash, and Mr Robot. Nobody’s talking about cancelling those shows.

    1. Well said SS! Always right on target … 😉
      As I said before, I stopped watching two episodes into Season 2 because it was too gross and no longer holding my attention … that is why it was axed, not because of illegal downloads!

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