Spoilers are coming.
The first four episodes of the highly anticipated fifth season of “Game of Thrones” leaked online Saturday night — a full 24 hours before the show’s HBO premiere.
The cable network quickly ruled out a Sony-style hacker attack and instead pointed the finger at screeners sent out to the media.
“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 wrote in a statement. “We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”
The stunningly violent “Game of Thrones” has held the crown for more than three years as the most-pirated show on TV, as many fans don’t have access to HBO.
But the premium cable network has been working to change that, launching its stand-alone streaming service — HBO NOW — last week. The service gives users their first opportunity to watch the show without a cable subscription, offering a 30-day free trial before requiring people to cough up $14.99 per month. It is currently only available via iTunes and Cablevision’s Optimum Online Internet service.
Fans of the fantasy series quickly snatched up the leaked episodes, with more than 1 million downloads since the sneak peek was illegally released Saturday night, according to download site TorrentFreak.