'Game of Thrones' Season 5 episodes leak online

'Game of Thrones' Season 5 episodes leak online
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) appears in a scene from Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." The fifth-season premiere airs on Sunday, but thousands have already seen it via episodes leaked online Saturday night. (Helen Sloan / Associated Press)

It seems winter came sooner for some viewers than others.

Four episodes from HBO's "Game of Thrones" fifth season leaked online Saturday night -- a day before its official bow.

The leak comes as the much-talked-about online-only streaming service HBO Now launched this weekend to coincide with the release of "Game of Thrones." HBO was also giving its non-TV subscribers a chance to catch the fantasy drama on Sling TV, in addition to premiering the show simultaneously in 170 countries -- in what seemed like an effort to combat the temptation to pirate the drama, which is the most illegally downloaded show in the world.

The source for this latest leak appears to be someone in possession of the screeners HBO sends out, as indicated from HBO's statement issued Sunday morning on the matter:

"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. We're actively assessing how this breach occurred."

The episodes, which appeared on public sites such as the Pirate Bay, RARBG and KickassTorrents, were downloaded more than 100,000 within the first three hours, according to TorrentFreak.com.

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