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First four episodes of 'Game of Thrones' season 5 leaked

Scheduled to premiere Sunday in 170 countries, episodes of the fifth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" have already leaked online.

A public screening of "Game of Thrones" Season 3 premiere episode in San Francisco. James Martin/CNET

The first four episodes of "Game of Thrones" were leaked online Saturday as the fifth season of HBO's popular series is set to premiere Sunday night in 170 countries.

According to Tech Crunch, 50,000 people downloaded the premiere episode a few hours after it was posted on torrents. The show has long been known as being one of the most pirated shows, and often breaks torrenting records with its premiere and finale episodes.

With its newly launched HBO Now streaming service, however, the network giant hoped to lure more users to its premium direct-to-consumer streaming platform with the fifth premiere of a "Game of Thrones" season.

Considering the fact that each season contains 10 episodes, four episodes is a large chunk to have released in the wild. However, HBO execs have said the show's popularity among online pirates is "a compliment of sorts" and does not hurt the DVD sales.

HBO confirmed the leaked episodes were genuine and said it is investigating to determine the source of the leak.

"Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of 'Game of Thrones' originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them," an HBO spokesman said in a statement. "We're actively assessing how this breach occurred."

Updated at 10 a.m. PT with HBO statement.