‘Game of Thrones’ Piracy Spurs HBO’s Move to Streaming-Only Screeners

After years of mailing out DVDs to critics and journalists, HBO is shifting to a streaming-only policy for advance reviews of its programming.

The move had already been in the works but was accelerated by last month’s leak of the “Game of Thrones” season five opener, which made its way on to online piracy sites from an advance DVD screener.

Quentin Schaffer, HBO’s exec VP of corporate communications, alerted reporters to the change on Monday. The shift takes affect as of Tuesday with the next batch of “Veep” episodes to be made available through HBO’s secure streaming site.

Most of the major networks have incorporated streaming into their protocols for offering advance looks at shows in the past few years. Initially there was pushback from both critics and producers because the often poor quality of streaming video, but the squawking has subsided as HD streaming video has made strides. Among the major nets, ABC and Fox have shifted exclusively (with rare exceptions) to streaming video as protocol for screeners.

Separately, HBO declined to comment on reports that it has given a series order to a “secret” project from director David Fincher dubbed “Living On Video.” The comedy is described as revolving around young people working in the exploding music vid production arena in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Fincher is also working on a drama series for HBO, “Utopia,” with “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn that is based on a British drama of the same name.

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