With Season 6 of Game of Thrones just under two months away, many fans are waiting with bated breath to see what the show has in store for its legions of fans. Season 5 ended with many questions left unanswered, which will surely lead to much discussion in the weeks leading up to the April 24 premiere. Over the past five seasons, members of the TV press have received the first four episodes early, for review purposes, but HBO president Michael Lombardo revealed to Entertainment Weekly today that, for the first time ever, advanced episodes won't be sent out to the press. Here's what he had to say in a statement.
"We're not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world. There will be no copies for review. It's painful for (series creators) Dan (Weiss) and David (Benioff) [when leaks happen]. 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."
Last year, one day before the Season 5 premiere, the first four episodes leaked online to BitTorrent sites, which originated from these press screeners. Several of the plot points from the first half of the season were widely discussed online, before these episodes aired. A few months earlier, the first trailer leaked online, shortly after it was shown to select audiences who attended special IMAX screenings.
Of course, this won't affect the April 24 premiere date, but it is still an unprecedented move. The show is one of the most popular on television, with Season 5 averaging 20.2 million viewers, when all forms of viewing was counted. This is also just the latest move that highlights how the show is embracing secrecy more than ever. During the show's Comic Con panel last summer, they didn't confirm any new cast members, which had become an SDCC tradition for the show, and as of now, the network still hasn't revealed any plot details or new characters for Season 6.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones will also be the first that has surpassed the books the series is based on, written by George R.R. Martin. The author's sixth book, The Winds of Winter, still doesn't have a publication date at this time, so both readers of his A Song of Ice and Fire books and viewers of the show are equally in the dark as to what may unfold in Westeros this season. What do you think about HBO's decision to deny press members early access to new Game of Thrones episodes?