Spoilers are coming, Game of Thrones fans. The first four episodes from the show’s fifth season—which premieres tonight on HBO—appeared on Internet piracy networks late Saturday.
By 9 a.m. Sunday morning, the files had been downloaded by nearly 800,000 users worldwide. The leak could represent a major blow to HBO’s most-watched series, a show that is also typically the top draw for online pirates. Game of Thrones has set piracy records in the past, but the series hasn’t aired new episodes since HBO launched its new streaming service, HBO Now, last week. The service was created in part to curb the illegal viewing of flagship shows like Thrones, as HBO Now doesn’t require a cable subscription.
HBO isn’t yet sure who leaked the episodes, but the network recently sent the first four hours to TV critics for review. “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.”
Only time will tell whether the pirates or HBO Now wins out. But in the meantime, Game of Thrones viewers may want to tread carefully to avoid unwelcome news from the realm of Westeros (EW will continue its policy of not posting GoT revelations until after the episodes air on HBO).
Additional reporting by James Hibberd.