Game of Thrones smashes Foxtel ratings records

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 19 July 2017

Despite the technical glitches during Foxtel's premiere of Game Of Thrones Season 7, the pay TV provider has racked up record ratings.

The first episode at 11am yesterday (coinciding with the US) launched with an audience of 820,000 viewers, which is the highest ratings ever for a series in the history of subscription television in Australia and is an increase of 13% on Season 6’s launch in 2016.

This figure includes streamed views on Foxtel Now and in total, counts for 893,000 unique individuals.

Foxtel says the number of Australians subscribing to  Foxtel Now leapt by 40% in the 48 hours prior to the screening of episode one.

The good ratings news follows on from a major subscriber backlash after technical glitches and “unprecedented” viewer demand saw its Foxtel Now on demand platform go into meltdown. It later elaborated on the issue, saying the combination of new Foxtel now customers signing up and existing customers upgrading to get the Drama Pack so they could watch the show, put unprecedented pressure on its technical operations. 

It says Foxtel’s Identity Management System (IDM), which verifies customers’ entitlement to view content, which usually handles around 5,000 processes a day was hit with 70,000 transactions in just a few hours.

Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh says engineers are working around the clock to ensure there are no more issues with next week's episode.

Walsh says the audience is “unprecedented for Foxtel” and it's “ecstatic with the result”.

“I fully expect this number to tilt at 1.5 million by the week’s end once more customers have viewed the episode through our catch up on demand service and encore screenings which are scheduled on the showcase channel throughout the week,” Walsh says.

“Game of Thrones has again broken records worldwide cementing its place in television history as one of the most watched programming events of all time.”

In a bid to keep up with the changing and challenging SVOD landscape, Foxtel revamped its content packages and entire brand in June this year. Complete with a new TV and logo, it rolled out plans to reposition Foxtel Play as Foxtel Now in a bid to take on Netflix and Stan and win over consumers on a tight budget.

The new service meant fans could subscribe to the $15 per month package and get access to the first Australian screenings of Game of Thrones. However, the screening did not go as planned and many could not even log in. See here for subscriber reaction.

“As has been reported, HBO in the US, its affiliate in Latin America and Foxtel all experienced some technical glitches with our respective streaming products and we reiterate our disappointment for those customers impacted by the outage,” Walsh says.

“Foxtel engineers are working to resolve the issue to ensure smooth transmission for the remainder of the series.”

The company says it is unable to say exactly how many customers were affected because the system is unable to separately identify customers who have a problem logging in but later successfully manage to do so.

"We had anticipated heavy usage for last night’s premiere; however, the traffic that eventuated far exceeded expectations. Foxtel’s engineers are examining what steps can be taken to mitigate any recurrence," a Foxtel spokesperson later said.

"Given that the problems were driven by the volumes of people who sought to sign up on the day of broadcast, Foxtel advises others who wish to sign up before next week’s episode to do so a few days in advance."

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