HBO cracks down on reviewers who leak Game of Thrones episodes

The cable network has stopped sending out DVD previews to stem leaks

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Critics get a bad rap, but don’t say we never give you anything. After the first four episodes of Game of Thrones series five leaked online, it was widely speculated that a review copy sent out to journalists had been posted online. 

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Well, I’m afraid the party is over, guys. Our supply has dried up.

In an email to reviewers, an HBO spokesperson explained that new shows would be sent out online rather than on DVDs. While noting that “amazingly enough, it wasn’t until just recently that a DVD was leaked online”, new programmes will now be accessed via a secure streaming service, starting with forthcoming episodes of Veep. Previously the channel had announced that the leak “originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them”.

The move brings HBO into line with many other broadcasters, including Netflix and BBC, who run their own online portals for reviewers. These require sign-in credentials and often stamp the identity of the reviewer across the screen. This ruins the viewing experience for the poor suffering critic, but makes it easier to track down the source of a leak.

HBO are justified in feeling especially paranoid about piracy. As well as the recent leak, Game of Thrones has topped the charts as the world’s most pirated show for the last three years. It’s not only scripted television that is a casualty of the ever changing face of piracy. The multimillion-dollar boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was rebroadcast by users of live streaming services like Periscope. Guess who lost out on pay-per-view payments? That’s right, HBO!

Incidentally, for those who took part in the, ahem, ‘advance preview’ of GoT series five, broadcast television has now caught up with the leak. You’re stuck watching week by week with the rest of us. 

Game of Thrones is up against Cilla, Sherlock, The Missing, Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off and EastEnders for this year’s Bafta Radio Times Audience Award. Vote for your favourite here.

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