The most pirated TV shows and films of the last 12 months show fantasy titles are the most popular among those illegally downloading online.

The Hobbit - The most pirated film of 2013
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was the most pirated film of 2013, beating Django Unchained and Fast and Furious 6.Warner Brothers

While it may not have won over the critics, Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a big hit with those illegally downloading films in 2013.

According to figures collated by website TorrentFreak, The Hobbit was downloaded almost 8.5 million times over the last 12 months through the BitTorrent network, which is a peer-to-peer network allowing users share files online.

However, as TorrentFreak notes, these figures don't take into account the number of times the film was illegally streamed online or shared using cryptolocker downloads, as there is no way of monitoring these figures. This means the real number of times the film has been illegally viewed in the last year is substantially higher.

Most Pirated Films 2013
TorrentFreak

Quentin Tarantino's tale of the slave traders, Django Unchained, along with speed-fest Fast and Furious 6 rounded out the top three most pirated films of 2013, but it seems that film piracy is not having a major effect on the cinema going – with the US box office set to record its best year in history.

The impact is however likely greater on sales of Blu-rays and DVDs as well as subscriptions to film channels and streaming services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.

TV shows

It seems as if fantasy fans are among the most prolific illegal downloaders, as the fantasy epic Game of Thrones topped the most pirated TV shows list for the second year in a row.

Game of Thrones

The 2013 series finale of Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally 5.9 million times via BitTorrent, which was more than the estimated 5.5 million people who watched it when it aired on television in the US.

The show is created by HBO and some have blamed the network for fostering a situation where the only way for many people to see the show is by illegally downloading it.

In the US the only way to see the show was on HBO, which requires a subscription, with the network refusing to sell the rights to the show to other operators - such as Netflix - despite being offered a lot of money.

Generating cultural buzz

It also seems that those involved in Game of Thrones are not too worried by the levels of piracy around their show.

Director David Petrarca has admitted that piracy generated much-needed "cultural buzz" around the show, while Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner which owns HBO, said piracy resulted in higher subscription rates and receiving the title of "most-pirated" was "better than an Emmy."

Most Pirated TV Shows 2013
TorrentFreak

The hugely popular Breaking Bad finale is the second-most downloaded TV show of the year, with zombie apocalypse show The Walking Dead in third position.

In the UK, courts have been active in 2013 in trying to block access to sites offering pirated films, TV shows and music, with Pirate Bay being the most high profile site being banned.

However despite the courts' rulings, and the implementation of the blocks by Internet Service Proiders (ISPs), there are many ways around the blocks especially for those with some technical knowledge.

Popular torrent site isoHunt was closed down in October following a lengthy court battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) but subsequently has re-emerged under new ownership.