Preventing Game of Thrones Spoilers Has Become HBOs Sisyphean Boulder
It seems that no matter what HBO does, the night will always be dark and full of Game of Thrones spoilers. The premium cabler has long tried to prevent plot details from leaking ahead of the shows airing, but the struggle remains futile—as proven by the last two weeks. In both cases, Season 8s introductory episodes have leaked hours ahead of their premiere times, with plot details immediately spilling across social media. Piracy has, unsurprisingly, also continued to be popular among cord-cutting fans—but if the premium cablers past comments are any indication, that particular issue is not as big of a concern.
This weeks culprit, according to Variety, was Amazon Prime—specifically in Germany, where fans were granted access to Season 8s second episode ahead of its scheduled release. One fan quickly uploaded the file to Openload, though it was swiftly removed. Nonetheless, Variety notes, plot details inevitably made their way onto social media, for those spoiler-happy fans who prefer reading to waiting. This incident follows last weeks leak from DirecTV, which apparently made the episode available to a small batch of fans—complete with a push notification—before the satellite company quickly scrambled to cut off access.
Its hard to overstate the lengths HBO has gone over the years in its quest to stop spoilers from leaking. Its been years since critics received screeners ahead of episodes release; this season, Variety reports that all scripts were kept on iPads in lieu of paper scripts, and that fake scenes were shot in order to throw spoiler hounds off the scent. Its a degree of caution that other series, including The Walking Dead, have since mimicked, as viewer erosion continues to take its toll on ratings. (That is, for many shows—not so much Game of Thrones, which despite the pervasive leaks, has continued to break its own ratings records season after season.) The caution is understandable, as demonstrated by incidents like the HBO hack in 2017, which reportedly saw drafts of Game of Thrones scripts leaked.
Meanwhile, pirates continue to love the series as well; this seasons premiere saw upwards of 54 million illegal downloads and views. But HBO has seemed historically unbothered about that particular phenomenon. Although Thrones has long been a favorite among pirates, former HBO programming president Michael Lombardo described the network as more flattered by the rate of piracy than anything else. “I probably shouldnt be saying this,” he said in 2013, “but it is a compliment of sorts. The demand is there. And it certainly didnt negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.” At this point, with only four episodes left in the series, it seems safe to assume that that “live and let live” mentality has continued into Season 8.
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