The Game of Thrones world has rather been testing on its fans this season. In another shocker, the penultimate episode of Season 7 has been leaked in its entirety on Wednesday morning. The episode, which captures the dangerous expedition Jon Snow embarks on with a band of allies had the fans in jittery spirits, as the promo assured some exciting drama. That being said, in the wee hours of Wednesday, HBO Spain allegedly aired the episode by accident, and this was followed by a full episode being leaked online.
This has left millions of GoT fans in despair, as they battle between their minds and hearts — whether to watch the leaked episode or stay true and wait for the official airing! Fans, media persons and cyber security experts share their views on the anatomy of such leaks, and how they react to the same.
Sahithya Jagannathan, model and actress, who happens to be a die-hard GoT fan is furious about the leak. “I wish I had a dragon and I could ‘Dracarys’ the people who leaked the episode! This is uncool and I cringed when I heard of the leak,” she begins, adding, “Now I will have to stay off the internet for five days and wait for the official telecast on Monday.” Although she is ready to wait until Monday, Sahithya says it is only natural for fans to watch the leaked version. “I cannot be the moral police here. It is totally their call to watched the leaked version. But my only concern is that they should not put out spoilers. They should be sensitive and give legit spoiler warnings.”
Rayane Mithun, who heads the New Media wing and produces online content for Radaan Media says, “Although I don’t watch the show, I have heard of the leak, and I don’t think fans will stay away from watching the leaked version. But as someone who is in production, such leaks are just horrible. The same happens with films too right. Putting years of hardwork, blood and sweat just to see someone leaking it in minutes is heartbreaking. The same happened to my family, when we produced my father’s film Jaggubhai.”
The fourth episode of the season, The Spoils of War was leaked early this month and the accused were from Bengaluru’s Prime Focus technologies, which handles digital content for Hotstar, which telecasts the series in India. Rayane says in the digital age, it’s almost impossible to have content which is completely secure. “No matter how careful you are, if someone wants to leak it online, they will find a way to do it.”
Rahul Mohanraj, a white hat based in Chennai, who famously found a major bug in Facebook, says it is hard to curtail the spread — “The leak mainly happens for GoT because they distribute it to various countries and it is hard to keep track of all of them. However, the recent leak is a human error.”
When further probed on why it is difficult even for the makers of the world’s largest show to control the spread once something is leaked, Rahul says, “You have to be amazingly fast to stop the damage. Also, you got to have so much of resources all at one time to stop the links from spreading. That’s why it is hard.”
Quality plays a major role, as much of it is compromised when it comes to watching leaked versions — a reason why Vinoth Kumar, a student of Madras University says he will stay away from it. “In fact, I like the one-week wait to watch a new episode. Moreover, the show is best watched in high quality, and I don’t want to compromise on that. Although, it will be tough to stay on social media,” he admits.
Not all fans say the same. Venkat Krishnan, a software engineer in the US, says, “I’m an ardent GoT fan and when the fourth episode leaked, I avoided social media till I watched the legal version. This time, I was so angry when I unknowingly opened WhatsApp and saw a spoiler. Then, I decided I’ll watch it anyway!”
Venkat, like many others, feels that it’s better if the episodes were released all at once — “ It’s better if they can upload the entire series and let us binge-watch it. Netflix has conditioned us to expect the entire season immediately.”
(With inputs from Jannani K and Kirubhakar Purushothaman)