The global hype around the Game of Thrones season four premiere meant there was some inevitability that there was going to be a hell of a lot of viewers, but the ratings performance was nevertheless very impressive.
Australian pay-TV giant Foxtel, which is the only media outlet legally able to show the new series, saw a 40 per cent lift in viewers, up to 315,000 across the two time slots it ran on Monday, compared to the season three premiere in 2013.
In the US, according to Fairfax, the cult show delivered HBO a major ratings coup, with 8.2 million viewers – the largest for the network since The Sopranos finale in 2007.
Foxtel’s director of corporate affairs Bruce Maegher said the Australian ratings figure did not take into account viewers who recorded the show to watch later or would watch repeats this week.
Foxtel announced earlier this year that it had secured the rights to be the only Australian media company able to show Game of Thrones season four direct from the US.
This means that anyone who does not have a Foxtel subscription has to legally wait more than three months to download the show from iTunes or Quickflix.
Given that Game of Thrones was the most illegally downloaded TV show in 2013, according to file sharing website TorrentFreak, it’s unlikely many Australian fans will wait until August or September to get their Westeros fix.
Mr Maegher, said the upswing in Foxtel’s viewers did not necessarily correlate to new subscribers, but he said there had been in an increase in customers in the fortnight leading up to yesterday’s premiere.
He said in the 2013 calendar year, Foxtel had a five per cent increase in subscribers, but he would not give an update on numbers at this time.
However, Foxtel has seen a surge in the numbers for its online services, specifically it’s new Play products, which Mr Maegher said was directly linked to Game of Thrones season four launch.