HBO has surprised Game of Thrones fans and critics alike with their latest decision.
The network has decided to not provide advance episodes for members of the media to screen. Usually critics will receive several episodes (four being typical) before the season’s beginning in order to allow the media to prepare reviews. Not this year, though.
“We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo tells Entertainment Weekly in a new interview. “There will be no copies for review.”
Some kind of change to the process was expected after last year’s screener episodes leaked onto piracy websites before the season premiere. HBO has since switched to an online streaming website for review purposes, but apparently tougher measures are being implemented when it comes to Game of Thrones.
“It’s painful for Dan and David [when leaks happen],” Lombardo says to EW. “When you have press copies, inevitably friends ask, ‘Can I see your copy?’ There are things that happen. We talked about the upsides and downsides. Some of the press are fans who might be disappointed, but they’ll understand.”
It is very rare for the press not to be provided screeners, especially when it comes to a show that isn’t a bomb dodging critics’ opinions. But given the chronic issue with leaking, it’s understandable that HBO is putting all episodes on lockdown. Critics will just have to work around the issue, and personally, I’m glad to see the network taking action to prevent leaks that make it difficult for all fans to enjoy the show without being spoiled of entire episodes weeks before they air. I do enjoy the pre-premiere reviews we usually get, but unfortunately, the screener-leakers have brought us to this point.
We’ll all be seeing Game of Thrones season 6 for the first time when it premieres on April 24th. Unless you have tickets to one of those red carpet premieres, from where leaks also usually come. Hmm. Well, it’s still better than a four-episode leak!