Sky’s Now TV service went from the Iron Throne to the slums of Flea Bottom as viewers overwhelmed servers trying to watch Game of Thrones’s fourth season.
Attempts to connect shattered like arrows against the Wall as the first episode began at 9pm on Sky Atlantic, with Now TV’s ravens returning only error messages to many fans.
Fortunately, the Night’s Watch of Sky’s tech support prevailed and Now TV returned to normal by 10pm – although this wasn’t much help if you wanted to see the episode. It’s now available on demand in Now TV.
“Please sort this out, It is unacceptable for a paid TV service to be unavailable for a whole hour, due to “unforseen high demand” we have all known that “winter is coming” for months, so please allow for extra demand at 21:00 on Monday nights,” posted swiftswift1 on the Now TV forum.
The Now TV outage came just a day after American viewers were too numerous for HBO Go, the online counterpart to Game of Thrones producer HBO.
Now TV said: “We’re incredibly sorry that customers viewing NOW TV experienced some disruption last night. This is not an acceptable level of service for our customers. We’re investigating the cause and will be contacting those affected shortly with a gesture of good will.”
Sky satellite viewers were smugger than Joffrey Baratheon, having been able to enjoy the debut episode of season four from 2am, when it was simulcast without adverts – the perfect use for Sky+HD.
The early-morning showing drew an audience of 537,000 on Sky, with another 675,000 watching the 9pm showing last night.
This gave the series its biggest opening episode ever, beating the season one premiere of 782,000 in 2011.
HBO saw the same success, collecting 8.2m viewers on live TV alone, before adding on demand and HBO Go views, making it the network’s most popular broadcast since the finale of The Sopranos in 2007.
Sky has guaranteed first pick of HBO’s shows until 2020, although six years may be too soon for notoriously slow-writing author George RR Martin to conclude the story.