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Here's why HBO couldn't keep Game of Thrones 100% leak-free despite so much security

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Episode leaks, plot point leaks, images and screengrabs flying out of spoiler accounts hours before airing – Game of Thrones Season 8 has seen it all. This, despite the seemingly ironclad security measures HBO has supposedly put in place. What went wrong?

HBO’s overseas distribution structure, says this Vulture report. Simply put, it is virtually impossible to keep Game of Thrones 100% leak-free if it is to be distributed in almost all corners of the world.

HBO is a channel, and not exclusively digital content curators like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Their streaming service HBO Now has millions of subscribers, but to reach further shores they have to partner with third-party operators in many countries – like local cable company (Spectrum or Comcast), satellite services (DirectTV), and local/global digital content providers (Hotstar, Hulu, Amazon).

Now many of these channels that carry little or no HBO branding – and HBO isn’t involved in the distribution process through every step of the way. This is ripe territory for leaks to happen since HBO’s own security measures are not always in place. The recent leaks bear out this assertion. Both Episode 1 and 2 of Season 8 were leaked by such partner concerns of HBO – DirectTV and Amazon Prime.

So is it entirely impossible to prevent leaks like these?

Well, not exactly. HBO could have chosen a tighter distribution route by keeping it limited to their own channel, but it would have opened another can of worms which is arguably much worse for business – piracy. An HBO operative quoted in the Vulture report puts it like this: “You can say, ‘We’re gonna hold it off and not deliver it,’ but you know what’s going to happen three minutes after we start airing it here? It’s going to start getting pirated.”

Plus, that is unfair to both the global viewership of Game of Thrones and HBO partners in many countries, some of whom have had entire subscription drives based on Game of Thrones airing rights.

There is also the fact that leaks seem to have no effects whatsoever on the show’s popularity. Game of Thrones episodes, images, and plot points have been leaked online for years – but the viewership has only grown. A stray spoiler or two can definitely mar or affect the viewing experience of a fan, but it’s very unlikely to prevent them from viewing the episode itself.

HBO seems to have decided spoilers are better than piracy and let their international distribution model run as usual for Game of Thrones Season 8.

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Founder at Wiki of Thrones and a full-time Game of Thrones fan who does other work when he has finished reading and writing about Game of Thrones and also dreams about playing a role in the show.

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