From today, there will only be one advert break in Game of Thrones. One. That’s the same number of people in Westeros who actually like Joffrey.
The decision was announced by Sky at the end of last week – and follows several weeks where the number of adverts during the programme has been, frankly, rather on the annoying side. The adverts are shown on both Sky Atlantic and on NOW TV, where non-Sky customers can currently stream the programme live (legally) without a 12-month contract for £4.99 a month.
NOW TV viewers and Sky On Demand users have the option to avoid the adverts altogether by catching up later on-demand, but that requires waiting anywhere between 10 minutes and several hours for the show to be available to stream – watching Game of Thrones live is one of the main attractions of NOW TV.
The ad breaks became most problematic during Episode 2, The Lion and the Rose, because the events were mostly set in one location: King’s Landing. Normally, the simultaneous plot lines of George RR Martin’s books (chopped and changed from the books, where they are split up between tomes) mean that ads can slip in between segments without too much disruption, but when both Sky members and NOW TV customers are already paying a subscription fee, the idea of having constant breaks isn’t always appealing.
Indeed, we’re currently carrying out a survey on piracy and watching TV shows online. While we are still collating results, it’s perhaps worth noting now that 37 per cent of people who have pirated Game of Thrones say they did so because they didn’t want to watch adverts.
Sky broadcast the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 4 simultaneously alongside the US, at 2am, without any ads. While they have not continued to do this for the rest of the season, changing to one single ad break is an undoubtedly welcome decision for fans.
The question is: will it have any affect on those currently watching by other means?
For more information on NOW TV, head this way.