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We are t-minus just a few hours until HBO premieres the fifth season of Game of Thrones, but some individuals are already partaking in not just the first Season 5 episode, but the first four installations from the new season. Early statistics indicate that by the end of Sunday, the episodes may be downloaded more than a million times.
So, how did this happen? Torrent Freak, which has been tracking the leak all morning, indicates that the illegally downloadable material most likely originated from one individual’s press screener. The episodes first leaked on a private torrent tracker called ITP between 9 and 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, and were soon decimated out to numerous other sites, including the infamous Pirate Bay, along with RARBG and KickassTorrents. At the time of this writing, more than a million downloads had occurred.
The news is a big blow for Game of Thrones, which has kept a fairly tight lid on the plot in Season 5, especially since the show plans to deviate away from George R.R. Martin’s novels more than usual. The good news for the channel is that the entire season hasn’t leaked, and Game of Thrones is generally known for holding off a lot of the biggest shocks until later in the season, although Season 4 did feature a prominent death quite early on.
There is a problem with the illegally downloadable episodes (beyond the fact that it is illegal to download them). The screener copies purportedly were posted in standard definition, rather than the HD definition that most HBO subscribers use to watch the series, allowing the scenes with action and the scenes with dragons to really pop on the screen.
HBO has worked really hard in recent years to make the series available in as many households as possible. In the US, fans can watch via the regular HBO service, but also digitally via HBO Go, or HBO Now for those who don’t subscribe to cable. The show is also released simultaneously in countries around the world in order to cut back on piracy. However, HBO Now is currently only available in the States, and not all countries are able to air GOT on a regular TV station, so in some cases the demand exceeds the service. Game of Thrones regularly tops the list of most illegally downloaded shows; however, this doesn't usually occur before the new season has been released.
If you’d like to watch Game Of Thrones the traditional way and with HD picture, you can tune in to HBO tonight at 9 p.m. ET. If you’d like to take a more spoiler-free look at what we know about the new season, you can head here.