Update: Episode 10 of Game of Thrones Season 4 is only available on NOW TV until Tuesday 15th July 2014. To watch the whole series, click here.
It’s finally happened. Game of Thrones Season 4 will be available to watch online in the UK within 24 hours of its US broadcast for the first time. Legally.
Game of Thrones will premiere on Sky Atlantic on Monday 7th April, the day following its US premiere – and will be released on NOW TV at the same time. This means that non-Sky customers will be able to stream it immediately online for a fiver a month – along with other Sky shows, such as True Detective and Girls.
The on-demand release of Game of Thrones has been a long time coming, with Sky hinting that Game of Thrones would be available simultaneously on NOW TV last year.
Indeed, ever since the launch of NOW TV’s Entertainment Pass, the monthly subscription of £4.99 (which renews at £6.99 a month from 29th May) has seen Sky’s VOD service live up to its name: programmes such as The Walking Dead have streamed live online alongside their TV broadcasts and then on-demand afterwards, prompting speculation that George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic would do the same thing. After all, somebody had to do something: with HBO releasing the show on DVD and Blu-ray almost one year after its original premiere, the lack of availability for non-Sky customers made Game of Thrones one of the most pirated series around the world. HBO, it seemed, knew nothing (Jon Snow).
But in the last year, the company has significantly stepped up their digital distribution. In July, they made a deal with Tesco’s pay-per-view blinkbox to provide the exclusive download rights for Season 1, 2 and 3 – the first time the show had been available to non-Sky users before the home entertainment release. That was followed by another deal with Google Play just before Christmas, allowing Android devices to explore Westeros during the holidays. When you play the Game of Thrones, you live or you die – and Tesco and Google were winning.
Now, though, Sky have made a move for the crown.
HBO have decided that waiting until the summer to stream Season 4 is still too much of a gap for fans who are used to being able to download episodes immediately – and without having to pay a penny. The launch of NOW TV’s Entertainment Pass last year, meanwhile, felt like a pre-emptive move from Sky to position itself ahead of its GoT competition (as well as Netflix) for 2014, using its exclusive rights to woo online viewers onto their (admittedly very good) platform.
Non-Sky customers need not worry, though: as well as being cheaper than a full-blown Sky system, NOW TV is contract-free, allowing UK viewers to pay for Game of Thrones without committing to 12 months of charges.
Lots of the cast are returning for round four of the deadly political play-offs, including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Jack Gleeson, Alfie Allen, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie and Charles Dance.
New faces joining the Seven Kingdoms include our very own Mark Gatiss, Joel Fry, Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Gangs of New York), Luther’s Indira Varma and Homeland’s Pedro Pascal, who will play Prince Oberyn Martell, aka The Red Viper.
Things are just as exciting behind the camera: George RR Martin will return to write an episode of Season Four, while Blackwater’s Neil Marshall will return to direct an unknown number of episodes. Other confirmed directors include Breaking Bad’s legendary Michelle MacLaren and Alex Graves (The Newsroom).
And so, we can finally write this sentence: Season Four of Game of Thrones will premiere on Sky Atlantic HD on Monday 7th April at 9pm, less than 24 hours after the show debuts in the US. It will also be available to watch online legally, contract free, on NOW TV with the NOW TV Entertainment Month Pass.
When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die. Sky, it seems, are now winning. More importantly, so are we.
For more information on NOW TV, head this way.