Game of Thrones is already one of the most pirated shows on TV, and now, on the very eve of season 5’s release, word is that the first four episodes have been leaked simultaneously.

The copies were first spotted on the private torrent tracker IPT yesterday afternoon, but by the evening, the files had made their way to big public sites including The Pirate Bay, RARBG and KickassTorrents. According to Torrent Freak, during the first three hours of the leak, the episodes were downloaded more than 100,000 times, and that number may climb to over a million by later today.

This is unhappy news for HBO, to say the least. The cable network carefully timed the release of its new standalone streaming service, HBO Now, around season 5’s debut. With a primary selling point of HBO Now being easy, cable-free Game of Thrones access, and now, nearly half of the first season out before the first episode premieres...well, let’s just say Cersei probably isn’t the only one who’d like a few heads brought to her this morning.

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It’s unclear whether news of the leak will affect HBO’s distribution strategy at this point. If it were me, I’d pull a Netflix and release the entire season at once, so that my fans didn’t have to choose between avoiding weeks of internet spoilers and downloading the episodes illegally. [TechCrunch]

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