WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven't watched the first two seasons of "House of Cards," you might not want to read on. Or just.
The world really wants to see how a President Frank Underwood might helm the United States, and like Underwood himself, a number of those "" viewers are willing to bend or break certain laws and ethical codes to achieve that goal.
OK, so maybe torrenting the third season of "House of Cards" is nowhere near tossing a reporter in front of a moving train on the continuum of moral naughtiness, but what's clear is that an increasing number of viewers have no qualms engaging in a little piracy to binge on the third season of the hit Netflix series.
According to statistics from piracy-tracking outfit Excipio published by Variety, more than double the number of downloaders grabbed illegitimate copies of the third season from torrent sites compared with the number that pirated season two last year in the first 24 hours after it became available. In total, that's over 680,000 downloaders this year versus just 320,000 in 2014.
Roughly one-third of those downloads come from countries where Netflix is not currently available, led by China and India, but 50,000 are in the United States and tens of thousands more are in Canada, the UK, France and the Netherlands, where less than the cost of a single cinema ticket will get you a one-month streaming subscription, including dozens of hours of "House of Cards," and thousands of hours of other streaming titles.
Hey, we all want something for free online these days and I get that Frank Underwood himself might have a bit of the pirate spirit in him, but as a content creator myself, I tend to be a fan of copyright. Besides, do we really want to emulate Francis? He sure gets what he wants, but still seems like a miserable sod in the end heading for a fate in the same vein as Walter White if I had to guess now.
The pirates still seem to be the minority when it comes to watching "House of Cards," though. It's been reported that somewhere between 2 and 5 million Netflix subscribers watched the second season when it debuted last year, and there's reason to believe those numbers are even higher for Season 3.
Networking firm Sandvine saw a 10 to 35 percent increase in Netflix bandwidth usage this past weekend, starting with the release of the new season on Friday. This appears to be different from the debut weekend for Season 2, during which another firm, Procera, found no appreciable rise in Netflix traffic. While comparing different data sources from different firms is far from scientific, it's just another interesting nugget that seems to indicate that the popularity of "House of Cards" is growing with each season.
Sandvine also told Business Insider that it estimates that on Sunday, nearly half -- 45 percent -- of all US bandwidth was taken up by Netflix viewing. Since Netflix normally takes up about 30 percent of bandwidth at that time, you might reason that 15 percent of US bandwidth was dedicated to watching "House of Cards." Netflix holds its own cards very close to its vest, however. The company has never released viewership numbers for the series.
This all brings us to the question on my mind: How much further can Frank Underwood go? What will he do to become president of the entire galaxy? What lengths will he go to get on thatcolonial team? Better get back to binge-watching...