×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episodes Leak to Piracy Sites Ahead of HBO Premiere

Torrent downloads of unaired episodes top 1.7 million in less than 24 hours

The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series.

“Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them,” HBO said in a statement. “We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”

The four episodes of the 10-segment season appeared on torrent sites sometime between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Saturday. Through 7 a.m. Sunday, the leaked “Game of Thrones” eps had been downloaded by more than 550,000 individual clients worldwide, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio — and by 9 a.m., the figure was up to 778,985. [Update: By 5 p.m., downloads topped 1.7 million worldwide.]

The pirated “GoT” episodes are legitimate copies, Excipio said. According to Mashable, the four episodes appeared to come from a screener sent to reviewers (with the digital watermark blurred out) and are in 480p video format, equivalent to standard-definition TV, not HD.

“Game of Thrones” has long been catnip for illicit downloaders. The HBO original series clocked in as 2014’s most-pirated TV show, with more than 48 million episodes snagged by pirates via file-sharing torrent services, and the season-four finale hit record levels of downloads within 24 hours of air.

The “Thrones” leak comes as the Time Warner-owned premium cable network has launched HBO Now: a broadband-only service that doesn’t require a pay-TV subscription for $15 monthly, designed to put HBO on the same footing as Netflix. HBO Now is available through Apple and Cablevision — but only in the U.S.

Studies indicate that piracy, especially pre-release piracy, has a depressing effect on revenue. But there’s also a feeling among some media execs that piracy can be promotional: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes in 2013 famously remarked that piracy of “Game of Thrones” was “better than an Emmy” as far as generating buzz.

More Digital

  • Lexus ES - AI commercial -

    First AI-Scripted Commercial Debuts, Directed by Kevin Macdonald for Lexus (Watch)

    The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series. “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO […]

  • Three Great New Narrative AR and

    New AR/VR Worth Watching This Week: 'Crow,' 'Wonderscope,' 'Age of Sail'

    The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series. “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO […]

  • Xbox One X Console Controller Front

    Disc-Free Xbox One in the Works (Report)

    The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series. “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO […]

  • Kickstarter Gameband Game Watch is Officially

    Kickstarter Gameband Game Watch Is Officially Dead, No Refunds in Sight

    The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series. “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO […]

  • Facebook Tests Messenger Group Video Viewing

    Facebook May Be Bringing Group Video Viewing to Messenger

    The first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five cropped up on piracy networks late Saturday — nearly a full day before HBO’s scheduled April 12 premiere of the popular fantasy series. “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content