Game of Thrones set to break viewing world record as Sky Atlantic joins global simulcast

The channel's decision to take part in the worldwide broadcast of the fantasy drama will see it watched simultaneously in 173 countries including the UK and Ireland

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Forget the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Game of Thrones is set to conquer the globe… The fantasy-drama phenomenon will break the record for the biggest TV drama simulcast in history next week, following Sky’s decision to join the worldwide broadcast of season five.

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Viewers in the UK and Ireland missed out on the HBO simulcast of the opening episode after Sky Atlantic premiered it at 9pm on Monday rather than at 2am on Sunday night. But from next Monday, 20th April, they will join the rest of the world in airing episodes in both the 2am and 9pm slots, meaning a total of 173 countries will see it at the same time.

That will break the existing record set by the pilot episode of crime drama CSI Cyber, which was shown in 171 countries at 7pm EST on 4th March, and should continue each week for the remaining nine episodes of the current run.

Sky Atlantic announced on Tuesday that it would be taking part in the simulcast via its Twitter account.

The broadcaster said it had been unable to join the worldwide broadcast of the season five premiere due to an existing partnership agreement to show the episode in cinemas across the country, but had updated its plans for the rest of the series after listening to viewer feedback.

“While we weren’t in a position to change the plans for the premiere episode, we listened to customer feedback in response to HBO’s announcement and changed our plans to simulcast episodes two-ten at 2am GMT,” a Sky spokesperson told RadioTimes.com.

An HBO spokesperson added: “We weren’t attempting to break a record, just interested in getting the show to as many viewers as possible… For us it is more about cutting down on piracy and pleasing worldwide viewers.”

Despite not being part of the premiere simulcast, the opening episode of Game of Thrones has already set a new record for Sky Atlantic, drawing the channel’s biggest overnight ratings to date. An average audience of 1.57 million – a 6.72% share of viewers watching in its 9-10pm time slot – tuned in on Monday night, up 29% on the combined figures for last year’s 2am/9pm series four launch.

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The channel, which traditionally relies on a high proportion of “time-shifted” catch-up viewing, said it expected to report a significantly larger consolidated audience number after taking into account those who watched the episode over the next seven days.

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