Just days after hackers leaked the Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 script, the full episode has now arrived early online, although it is not believed to be connected to the hack. The leak came from Star India, one of HBO's international broadcast partners, which receives episodes in advance of airtime, and there was a Star India watermark prominently featured on the leaked episode. Here's what Star India had to say in a statement about the leaked episode.
"This confirms the compromise of episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 7, earlier this afternoon. We take this breach very seriously and have immediately initiated forensic investigations at our and the technology partner's end to swiftly determine the cause. This is a grave issue and we are taking appropriate legal remedial action."
Entertainment Weekly reports that it is possible the same hackers who leaked the Game of Thrones script, along with this week's episodes of Ballers and Room 104, could be responsible for this breach at Star India. However, there have been leaks from other international distributors in the past, such as clips from Season 5 episodes leaking through international vendors, and, more recently, the Game of Thrones Comic-Con trailer leaked before the show's panel last month. The hackers promised to release more HBO content on Sunday, but now that this episode is out there, it remains to be seen if this seemingly unrelated leak will alter the hackers' plans.
We reported last month that the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere was pirated over 90 million times, which will likely lead to the iconic fantasy series being named the most pirated show once again this year, which would mark its sixth year in a row claiming this "title." While the piracy numbers are certainly staggering, the amount of viewers tuning in on legitimate HBO platforms is still quite impressive. The Season 7 premiere that aired on July 16 was watched by 16.1 million viewers during the 9 PM premiere alone, with a report from a few days ago revealing the premiere was about to eclipse 30 million viewers across all of HBO's platforms, which includes the streaming services HBO GO and HBO NOW.
HBO has employed a worldwide day-and-date release strategy for Game of Thrones in an effort to combat piracy, but with so many international partners to get episodes too, this intricate worldwide distribution network also multiplies the possibilities of leaks happening. The network has also taken other steps to decrease piracy, including the network refusing to send out early Game of Thrones critic screeners, a policy which was abolished after the first four Season 5 episodes were leaked online just days before the Season 5 premiere. If first four Season 6 episodes would have leaked early, it would have spoiled one of the show's biggest twists, the resurrection of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) by Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) in the second episode. Be sure to check back on Sunday for our recap of Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4, entitled The Spoils of War.