This year HBO decided to stop releasing promotional Game of Thrones screeners to the press.
The drastic move was taken to prevent early leaks, as had happened last year. However, thus far this strategy hasn’t been very effective.
While no screener releases have come out, as planned, the company itself has been the source of several breaches already.
Sunday afternoon, several hours before the official premiere, episode 8 of Game of Thrones’ latest season was already being shared online by tens of thousands of people.
A high quality copy with the scene release group tag “EXCLUSiVE” quickly spread to various torrent sites, giving pirates the exclusive indeed.
While it’s unclear how the group got their hands on the early copy, it appears that HBO may be to blame. The episode carries the regular HBO watermark and the “WEB” release tag shows that the video was ripped from an online service, likely HBO Go.
In addition to the Game of Thrones, HBO’s Veep and Silicon Valley were also released several hours early by the same scene group.
This isn’t the first episode of Game of Thrones to came out early this year. The same happened with the fifth episode due to a mistake at HBO Nordic. In addition, the season premiere also leaked a few hours early according to some reports.
For several years in a row Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV-show, and this year the interest is once again overwhelming. What appears to be changing is HBO’s attitude towards those who share the show without permission.
Not too long ago HBO CEO Jeff Bewkes said that GoT’s piracy records were “better than an Emmy,” but the company gradually increased its efforts to combat unauthorized sharing.
Over the past several weeks thousands of pirates have received warnings in their mailboxes, the company is also fervently taking down links to pirated copies of the show, and “porn” clips and spoilers have been targeted.