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Winter comes early: Game of Thrones Series 5 leaks online

Barry Collins
13 Apr 2015
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First four episodes of HBO's hit series leak onto torrent sites

The first four episodes of the fifth season of Game of Thrones have leaked online, despite HBO's best efforts to protect the most pirated show on television. The new series, which is officially aired for the first time in the UK at 9pm this evening, was launched last night in the US. Now British viewers don't have to wait for Sky's premiere if they know their way around the torrent sites and are prepared to put up with SD footage.

The leaked epsiodes started appearing on popular torrent sites yesterday, ahead of the first showing in the US. The leaks appear to have sprung from review copies of the show that are sent to the press. "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," HBO said in a statement.  "We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred."

Reports suggest the leaked episodes are limited to 480p resolution, meaning viewers will still have to wait until this evening if they want to watch the latest Westeros action in HD. The leaks caused a surge of traffic to popular torrent sites, with The Pirate Bay - which is blocked by all of Britain's leading ISPs - suffering an outage for much of yesterday, although it's not clear if that's related to the Game of Thrones leak or not. 

Find out how to Watch Game of Thrones legally online

HBO will at least be relieved that the leak hasn't come from a breach of security on its new streaming site, HBO Go, which was launched recently and is only available to US viewers. HBO has gone to some lengths to reduce piracy of the show in recent years. Previous new series of the show have been simultaneously broadcast around the world to reduce a key incentive to pirate the show, although Sky this year declined the opportunity to air the first episode at 2am this morning, arguing that it ruined the "watercooler moment" for viewers who weren't prepared to stay up until very late on a Sunday night. 

Despite HBO's efforts, Game of Thrones has been the most pirated television show for the past three years, according to research conducted by TorrentFreak. The site claims that many people are driven to pirate the show because it's restricted to premium television channels, such as Sky Atlantic in the UK. 

The cheapest official way to watch Game of Thrones in the UK is to buy an Entertainment pass for the Sky Now streaming service, which is available via the dedicated Now TV box or various apps for iOS, Android and the Apple TV. The Entertainment pass costs £6.99 per month and provides on-demand access to all of Sky's entertainment channels, catch-up shows and box sets.  

Sky Now has, however, suffered from streaming problems on previous Game of Thrones premiere nights, but the reliability of the service has improved greatly in recent months.  

 

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