Game of Thrones episodes keep leaking online - but why? Since the beginning, Game of Thrones is a series that is all about dramatic twists and turns, and keeping them secret until everyone has had a chance to watch has proven to be a herculean task. Since fairly early on in the show, HBO has dealt with leaks, as clips, screenshots, and just plain old spoilers have found their way online. Full episodes have even made the rounds at times, and despite their best efforts, every single episode of Game of Thrones' final season has leaked early so far.
These leaks come despite the fact that HBO has taken some serious precautions to try and prevent anyone from being spoiled. While filming, everything possible was done to stop fans from taking photos or footage that would give things away, including using "drone killers" to stop anyone from flying over the sets with a drone-mounted camera. In addition, scripts were kept on secure iPads that were kept at the studio, and only accessible a short time before filming. Not even the actors were spoiled. Fake scenes (even endings) were also reportedly shot. However, while this may have prevented shots/scripts from leaking during filming, it hasn't done a thing about affiliates leaking entire episodes early.
While smaller details and screenshots have leaked over the years, there have been a few fairly major moments where entire episodes have leaked early; back during Game of Thrones season 5, four episodes made their way online before they were supposed to air (and included some major moments from the season, to boot). Then, in season 7, two separate episodes were leaked early - one illegally lifted from HBO India, and the other "accidentally" aired early on HBO Spain. This season has seen a similar issue with all four of the episodes being made available early: the premiere was leaked by DirecTV, episode 2 by HBO Germany, and episode 3 and 4 saw clips and screengrabs posted online.
After the season 5 leaks, HBO made an effort to stop completed episodes leaking by cutting off press screeners - something that always comes with a risk that someone will post spoilers (or, that someone that knows someone who gets a screener will do so). In 2016, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo confirmed that screeners would stop (via THR), saying "We talked about the upsides and downsides. Some of the press are fans who might be disappointed, but they'll understand". However, this approach cannot prevent either employees working within HBO from managing to get access and post spoilers, or mistakes in airtime and programming that has led to episodes being aired hours early in other countries.
There's not a whole lot that HBO can do about the issue of people within the company or distribution chain illegally grabbing screenshots and clips (other than firing them, of course, but that's not preventative). It seems that there's also not a lot more that they can do about affiliates, as the company has already significantly shortened the length of time between affiliates being sent the episodes and the episodes airing. Short of making other areas wait a day or more (and then be spoiled themselves), there's very little that HBO can do. Undoubtedly, there will be some conspiracy-minded fans who believe that it is a deliberate way to drum up even more hype for the series, but as one of the most-viewed shows (and the most pirated show) in the world, there's really no reason that HBO would need to do this.