NBC's Hannibal may have had a loyal following, but the series ultimately got canceled by the network last year just after its third season.

However, producer Martha De Laurentiis believes she knows why the show got the ax, blaming online piracy for its untimely demise. With Hannibal being the fifth most-downloaded TV series of 2013, many viewers did watch it illegally.

"When nearly one-third of your audience for Hannibal is coming from pirated sites ..." De Laurentiis said to Yahoo. "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."

Although there is probably some truth to the statement, other similar fan-loved series see a lot of piracy, too, and manage to survive the dreaded ax, including The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot. Interestingly enough, though, many of these shows have something in common: their networks don't put their episodes up for streaming 24 hours after they air, at least not without an additional fee.

Hannibal, for example, was one of the few NBC shows that didn't put up episodes on Hulu 24 hours after they aired on television. This is generally the case with many pirated shows.

But in the end, perhaps piracy did hurt Hannibal and caused its low ratings, although many might argue that the series never belonged on NBC to begin with, which has a record of killing shows, regardless of how well they reach a particular fan base. A very similar thing happened after NBC canceled Constantine, a series that probably would have done well on a cable network.

Amazon and Hulu possibly considered picking Hannibal up for a fourth season, but both subscription services eventually passed on the series.

Now, the ship for Hannibal has officially sailed, with showrunner Bryan Fuller going on to do bigger and better things, such as the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods for Starz. He will also serve as showrunner for the new Star Trek series to debut on CBS All Access next year.

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