By James Hibberd
August 16, 2017 at 09:20 AM EDT
  • TV Show

You have GoT to be kidding.

Another Game of Thrones episode has leaked online.

And this time, HBO has itself to blame.

HBO’s European and Spain divisions posted Sunday’s episode 6 onto their own consumer platforms “for a brief time.”

Of course, “for a brief time” is all it takes for an episode to be illegally distributed around the globe.

“We have learned that the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO España platforms,” the company confirmed in a statement. “The error appears to have originated with a third party vendor and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized.  This is not connected to the recent cyber incident at HBO in the U.S.”

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Let’s run down the digital and leak chaos of this season: First, a bunch of spoilers leaked onto Reddit many months ago, seemingly from a show insider. Recently a hacker targeted HBO and has been distributing pre-air episodes of the network’s other shows, along with one GoT script and some spoilers for the fantasy hit. Then, the show’s fourth episode, “The Spoils of War,” leaked days early from HBO partner Star India (four have reportedly been arrested for the crime). And now, even after all of the network’s internal security crackdowns, HBO’s Europe and Spain divisions upload episode 6 four days ahead of time (the title of episode 6, by the way, has not yet been announced and the rumored title, “Death is the Enemy,” is not correct).

Much of this chaos is a direct reflection of the incredibly intense desire inspired by new episodes of Game of Thrones that cause people to hatch elaborate schemes to get the content in advance — other networks wish they had a title that inspires so much worldwide passion and ratings success. But at some point, you have to wonder if HBO needs to implement some new policies.

RELATED: Hear the latest from EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly podcast

The saving grace for HBO is that after “The Spoils of War” leaked, the on-air episode hit all-time ratings high for the show anyway (with 10.2 million overnight viewers). So viewership for episode 6 is unlikely to be impacted, and none of this is kicking HBO where it counts. That point is causing some online to wonder if HBO leaked episode 6 deliberately. In our experience, networks do not do this, and HBO and the GoT team are particularly anti-leak — a screw-up is almost always simply a screw-up rather than a Littlefinger-like elaborate scheme, even a leak as surprising as this one given all that’s happened in recent weeks. Plus, episode 5, “Eastwatch,” broke another ratings record on Sunday (10.7 million viewers) and that episode was not leaked. Game of Thrones‘ ratings surge is likely due to the most old fashioned of reasons — rising interest in a great show going into its creative end game.

EW coverage of “Eastwatch”:
Our deep-dive recap of ‘Eastwatch’ 
Joe Dempsie on Gendry’s long-awaited return 
 Writer Dave Hill explains 5 big ‘Eastwatch’ moments
— Did you miss that huge Jon Snow revelation? 
— Our GoT podcast

Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'
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