In an unfortunate turn of events, the season finale episode of HBO’s House of the Dragon has leaked online days before its official TV premiere. The studio’s spokesperson said the culprit may have come from a distribution partner in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East.
This is the first time the Game of Thrones prequel series has experienced an episode leak since its predecessor. Fans know very well that the original series has suffered from numerous leaks and is known to be the most pirated show in TV history. Hackers have been so relentless when it comes to threatening the studio and even demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom.
HBO’s statement reads (via Variety):
“We are aware that the tenth episode of House of the Dragon has been posted on illegal torrent sites. HBO is aggressively monitoring and pulling these copies from the internet. We’re disappointed that this unlawful action has disrupted the viewing experience for loyal fans of the show, who will get to see a pristine version of the episode when it premieres Sunday.”
House of the Dragon continues to beat its own viewership record every week and has amassed thousands of fans all over the world despite the controversial season finale of Game of Thrones Season 8.
Why HBO Shows Like House Of The Dragon Are Huge Targets For Episode Leaks
Despite HBO’s efforts to secure every episode until its official release, leaks still happen. Many would ask how this is possible, and certainly because there are multiple accounts handling the show. Back in 2019, Game of Thrones Season 8’s first two episodes were accidentally leaked by HBO’s distribution partners. Still images and video clips from the succeeding episodes also made their way online. In such cases, there is no stopping hackers and fans alike to spread these leaked media.
Unlike Hulu and Netflix, HBO relies on third-party companies to distribute their episodes both locally and internationally. Those who are directly subscribed to HBO’s consumer service mostly get access through cable companies like Comcast or DirecTV, and digital content providers like Apple TV or Amazon Prime. Outside America, shows like House of the Dragon or any HBO-produced projects receive little exposure, hence the need for an outside party to deliver content.
Seeing that HBO does not exclusively handle its productions and has no complete control over distribution worldwide leaves its door open for hackers to intrude. Theoretically, HBO could hold off its episodes and air them locally before distributing them outside its territory. But, according to an HBO insider, “You can say, ‘We’re gonna hold it off and not deliver it,’ but you know what’s going to happen three minutes after we start airing it here? It’s going to start getting pirated.”
Leaks Essentially Have No Huge Effect On Shows’ Ratings
One thing why HBO also appears to be “too soft” to manage the leaks is because these spoilers and pirated episodes have done little to no damage to the show’s ratings. You won’t hear a fan say, “They leaked the episode, so I’m not going to watch GOT or HOTD anymore!” In fact, it somehow drives more attention to the franchise as these leaks become social media content, appearing on several platforms and reaching new audiences.
Despite these spoilers and leaks, the Game of Thrones franchise keeps growing exponentially since it debuted in 2010. It paved the way for a prequel series, House of the Dragon, and a lineup of spin-offs that are currently in pre-production. In conclusion, there is really no surefire way to avoid leaks and piracy, no matter how hard HBO tries to safeguard their content.