Zombies are apparently more powerful than pirates, internet pirates that is. Syfy’s new zombie series, “Z Nation” made news over the weekend when its premiere episode surprisingly became one of the most pirated shows on the internet. Should Syfy be worried about how that may affect the ratings for its new original series? Apparently not, as the ratings for “Z Nation,” which premiered last Friday, Sept. 12, were spectacular for the network.
The internet was ravenous for the premiere episode of “Z Nation” last weekend. Over 300,000 unique IP addresses downloaded the episode of the new series, which follows the only group of survivors three years after a zombie apocalypse. While that number is well below the 1 million people who downloaded the Season 4 premiere of “Game of Thrones,” it beats out the piracy numbers for other hit shows such as the Season 2 premieres of Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”
However, if the piracy hurt the ratings for “Z Nation,” Syfy did not notice. According to a Syfy press release the Sept. 12 premiere drew 1.6 million viewers, the highest ratings the network has ever had for a scripted series. The series was the number one rated show in the 10 p.m. time slot for Friday night. Additionally, the show tracked very highly on social media (an accomplishment Syfy is used to with its “Sharknado” franchise).
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal, which owns Syfy, applauded “Z Nation’s” ratings in spite of the piracy craze saying, “Z Nation had an impressive premiere and will continue to be easily accessible for fans to watch on cable TV and online through legitimate streaming and download services when and where they want.”
Asked if word of mouth from illegal downloads could potentially boost ratings for “Z Nation” or any other show, the same NBCUniversal spokesperson staunchly denied the possibility saying, “The unauthorized distribution of TV shows hurts the creative industries and consumers who love quality TV.”
Whether the buzz from illegal downloading boosts a show’s ratings or not, the war against Internet piracy has noticeably cooled in recent years. Many point to the industry’s seeming acknowledgement that piracy is a “service problem” and that the best way to counter illegal downloading is to make content available more easily and more cheaply.
Syfy will certainly not fret as long as “Z Nation” continues to perform as well as it did for its premiere. “Z Nation” airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. EDT on Syfy. Watch the trailer for "Z Nation" below:
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