It is being reported that TV critics aren't going to get Game of Thrones screeners for the final season. Is HBO nervous of a leak like previous seasons or is the truth something else entirely? Is the network getting nervous of the reception that the final season of Game of Thrones might receive before it airs? Embargoing reviews is one thing but keeping critics from watching an advanced screening is another. Now, HBO does have legitimate concerns regarding advanced screening copies. But that doesn't mean they can't have a secure and private screening for critics without having to distribute screener copies.
Reportedly HBO used to send out Game of Thrones screener DVDs in advance, mailing them far and wide across the land. Apparently, critics sometimes got to view as many as six episodes of the new season before the first had even aired (though often with low resolution and incomplete special effects). But it seems that season 5 changed all that after the first four episodes leaked online from DVD screeners. Reportedly the leaker was not a critic, but the event halted the practice of distributing Game of Thrones episodes in advance.
But it didn't stop there, reportedly in the run-up to season 7, HBO was even infiltrated by a hacker trying to get spoilers on the new season and other corporate intel, which resulted in the network's security being tightened even more. Apparently, the hacker, an Iranian national, was eventually identified and charged by U.S. authorities.
Reportedly for season 8, HBO has yet to announce a red carpet premiere screening, but such an event usually happens. But HBO's silence is worrying. The final season of Game of Thrones will air in April.