It's no secret that Game of Thrones is one of the biggest, most shocking programmes on TV right now. The programme, which launched in 2011 as an adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series of books has grown to become one of the biggest programmes in television history, with a star studded cast, beautiful locations and a story as tight and compelling as anything else out there at the moment. Between shoots in Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco, Spain, Malta, Scotland and the United States, Game of Thrones has become one of the most expensive TV programmes on air at the moment, with each episode costing around $6 million to make. That money, far from going on established acting names (though the likes of Charles Dance, Sean Bean and others have appeared on the programme), has brought a new generation of talented young actors to our screens.
Now in it's fifth series, Game of Thrones has captured the hearts and minds of people across the world through unpredictable, wildly violent storytelling and a compelling fantasy world. Such is the fandom surrounding the programme that conventions like Comic Con have become flooded by fans dressed in replica clothing from the series. As such, it's little surprise to hear that the shocking, incredibly violent final episode of the fifth series debuted to very strong numbers on Sky Atlantic, the only channel in the UK with the rights to broadcast the programme.
Overnight numbers from BARB indicate that the Game of Thrones finale drew 1.3 million people to the live 9pm broadcast on Sky Atlantic, much higher than the previous numbers in the series. This could be due to people catching up On Demand, or simply curious people watching the final episode (it happens, it's weird). Those numbers don't take into account the 2am simulcast or the streaming numbers of customers turning up to the party a little late and watching it via Sky's robust catch up service. With those numbers included, it's highly likely that the episode saw over 2 million customers tune in to watch it.
This fifth series has been marked with controversy, with some fans complaining about the prevalence of sexual violence. It's also been the first series where the showrunners have gone off script, creating new storylines for characters simply because they are now out of books from which to draw their plotlines. That decision has been met with ire from fans of the books who make up a significant portion of the shows most ardent fans, who have criticised the ham fisted ways in which the TV writers have dealt with major characters.
Nevertheless, the programme remains an extremely important programme for Sky, who have it as an exclusive for Sky customers with Sky+ or Now TV and use it as a primary reason for potential customers to sign up to the service via the contact Sky phone number. As such, the company will be delighted with these overnight numbers as it shows that audience appetite for the programme remains strong despite the aforementioned controversies.
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