For those who think the illegal downloading of shows and movies doesn’t have consequences, just ask fans of the former NBC show Hannibal.

In an open letter posted on The Hill, Martha De Laurentiis, EP of the series which was cancelled in 2015 after three seasons, explains that a high volume of pirating contributed to the program’s demise.  

“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.”

De Laurentiis continued, “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.”

In 2013, Hannibal debuted to decent, but not overwhelming numbers - 4.4 million total viewers, landing it in third place behind Elementary (10.5 million) and Scandal (8.04 million). However, by what ended up becoming the series finale, the show drew just over 1.2 million viewers.

David Eckstein is a writer living in Los Angeles.