The advent of streaming video and digital distribution has made it a lot easier nowadays for viewers to cut cords, but it's also made it a lot easier for content to leak earlier than networks and streaming platforms would prefer. Hacks and leaks have been happening more frequently in recent months, and even the most popular shows on television have been affected. The latest big show to suffer a leak is none other than Game of Thrones. Surprisingly, however, the leak isn't a result of the recent HBO hack.
The upcoming fourth episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 was leaked online early this morning. The source of the episode is Star India, which is 20th Century Fox's distribution partner in India. The Verge reports that Star India has already initiated forensic investigations to determine how the leak actually happened. They'll be looking into their own company as well as their technology partner. They intend to take legal action on the culprit/culprits. It was not difficult to trace the leak back to Star India, as the episode is evidently watermarked with the company's logo throughout the content.
The Star India leak comes only days after news broke that HBO had been hit by an anonymous hacker or hacking group. While HBO understandably wasn't opening up about how much data was stolen, the hackers claimed to have taken 1.5 terabytes of data, which is... kind of a lot. Episodes of Ballers and Room 104 were among the data that was lifted, but it seemed Game of Thrones was mostly spared. A script for the next episode -- called "The Spoils of War" -- was among the content stolen (despite HBO's best efforts to keep scripts secret), although no full episodes were copied.
Well, "The Spoils of War" may not have gotten online due to a hack, but it did make it online nonetheless. Given that it was one of only ten episodes that are left in the whole series, this leak is a pretty big deal, and I'm guessing that somebody is going to end up in some very hot water over it.
Of course, this was hardly the first time that Game of Thrones footage has leaked online prior to official airing. The first four episodes of Season 5 were available online before Season 5 even debuted on HBO. That leak was not due to the efforts of hackers either; episodes that had been sent to members of the press for review were copied and uploaded online. This particular incident put an end to HBO's willingness to distribute screeners to press, but it clearly wasn't enough to totally stop episodes from hitting the web early.
A Season 6 episode was online early as well due to an oversight on the part of one of HBO's overseas branches. HBO Nordic accidentally put the fifth episode of Season 6 online a day early, giving fans the chance to watch the whole thing early. None of these leaks resulted in HBO suffering huge ratings drops, and this latest leak won't be the end of the world.