More than half a million watch Game of Thrones on Foxtel

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 14 April 2015

More than 500,000 people watched Game of Thrones on pay TV platform Foxtel last night, with an 11am screening only drawing 43,000 fewer viewers than the 7.30pm showing, with Foxtel boasting a 73% uplift in viewers year on year.

The HBO series debuted yesterday with both a global simulcast at 11am and an encore presentation at the friendlier time of 7.30pm, as Foxtel increasingly bets big on Game of Thrones fever.

According to overnight estimates from OzTAM, the 11am global simulcast brought in 236,000 viewers, giving a somewhat inaccurate guide as to how many people chucked Game of Thrones-related sickies yesterday.

The global simulcast is being seen as a way for HBO to combat online piracy, taking away another incentive for pirates to download the show from torrent sites.

The 7.30pm presentation brought in 279,000, meaning combined the two viewings brought in 512,000 people.

A Foxtel spokesperson said the presentation was historic for the pay TV operator.

"Yesterday's premiere of the fifth season of worldwide phenomenon Game of Thrones broke ratings records making it the most watched series in Australian subscription television history," the spokesperson said.

"A combined cumulative average audience of 553,000 Foxtel viewers tuned into the first episode yesterday - a huge 76 per cent increase on last season."

Both sessions were beaten on an individual basis by the NRL, with a clash between the Rabbitohs and Cowboys bringing in 325,000 for Foxtel.

However, it is not yet known how many people elected to record Game of Thrones, with the timeshift ratings set to come in a week from now, giving a greater insight into how many people watched the show.

It is also not yet known how many streams of Game of Thrones were seen on Foxtel's on-demand service, Foxtel Play.

Yesterday it launched new pricing for the service, basing its pitch on Game of Thrones fever.

The new season launch also came as the first four episodes of the series leaked online, leading Torrentfreak to claim that the first episode had been downloaded more than a million times worldwide within the first 18 hours of the leak.

It estimated that 3.1% of the torrent downloads were coming from Australia, but this does not account of location-masking Virtual Private Networks.

However, combined, both showings of Game of Thrones was not enough for it to break into the top 20 programs watched on free-to-air TV, but the FTA programs do have a compelling price point attached to them.

On free-to-air, My Kitchen Rules continued to rule the roost with a 1.35 million share, with Seven edging out Nine with a 29.5% share against Nine's 27.8 points.

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