If there's one fandom you don't really want to get onto the wrong side of, it's those who back Game of Thrones to win the televisual crown. They're a fierce, loyal bunch, and they don't take kindly to things like waiting to see their precious programme. Understandably then, UK based fans were downright furious when Sky announced that unlike the rest of the world, they would be delaying the broadcast of Game of Thrones until the following evening, so that they could enjoy so called 'event television' without fear of spoilers that would eventually arise from early broadcast.
That decision meant heavy criticism for Sky Atlantic through the numbers for Sky, though the company held strong and released a statement reading "We know it’s a ‘watercooler’ show, so while we experimented with simulcasting the premiere episode of series four, we plan to premiere each new episode of series five at 9pm GMT on Sky Atlantic in order to encourage UK fans to watch, enjoy and discuss their favourite show together. The new, fifth season of Game of Thrones will premiere in the UK at 9pm on Monday 13th April on Sky Atlantic, the day after it returns in the US.” Whilst there was some logic to that argument, it certainly didn't appease the legions of fans in the UK.
A petition was even launched to put pressure on the channel, which argued that joining in with the HBO announced simulcast wouldn't meant spoiling the programme for others, because the rest of the world would have already seen it at that point anyway.
Well, now Sky have thrown on the handbrake and done a U-Turn which means that the channel will now be joining in with the worldwide simulcast and begin broadcasting new episodes of the programme at 2am on Monday mornings, before being rebroadcast at 9PM, followed by Thronecast, the live after show programme. What inspired this change of heart? It likely has something to do with the leaked first four episodes of season five.
They leaked two days before the first episode was due to debut, and were likely leaked by a critic who got the episodes early to review. Nevertheless, the release of these episodes meant that the Internet filled with plot details almost instantly, and completely changes the way we're going to absorb these episodes. As such, Sky Atlantic now have nothing to fear from simulcasting the remaining nine episodes of the series. Here's the tweet which revealed the news:
— Sky Atlantic (@skyatlantic) April 14, 2015
Regardless of the leaks and lack of simulcast, the debut episode of this fifth series attracted record numbers of viewers to Sky Atlantic during the time slot, beating BBC Two and Channel Four with 1.57 million viewers and a 6.7% share of the total UK audience. That's a major victory for Sky Atlantic, and they'll doubtlessly be delighted, but this move is largely there to appease fans of the programme.
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