Westeros may be cut-throat and riven by betrayal, but it’s got nothing on the internet. Much of the first half of Game of Thrones series five was leaked to popular piracy sites over the weekend, ahead of its worldwide premiere.
The first episode was shown on HBO in America last night, but Britain and other territories will have to wait until this evening to catch up with Dany, Tyrion et al. At least, officially. The first four episodes are now being traded on torrent trading sites, with thousands of active downloads as you read this. According to file sharing news site TorrentFreak, within three hours of surfacing on Sunday morning, the episodes had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
The leak is aggravating for HBO. Not only did it arrange to show the first episode simultaneously in 170 countries (but not the UK), the series is being used as a selling point for HBO Now, its new US streaming service designed in part to combat piracy. In a statement, the channel said:
“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. We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”
Game of Thrones has long been catnip to online pirates, topping the charts as ‘Most Pirated Show’ for the last three years. For those who want to wait, the UK premiere is tonight, on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.