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'Game of Thrones' Is a Ratings Hit in Germany

Jon Snow
Oliver Upton

Marathon programming strategy pays off for German network RTL 2.

COLOGNE, Germany – A risky programming strategy paid off for the German free-TV debut of Game of Thrones.

Local network RTL2 scored a ratings hit with the Emmy-winning fantasy skein by programming the entire first series – 10 episodes – of Game of Thrones over one long weekend, from Friday through Sunday.

RTL 2 drew an average 9.6 per cent market share in the key 14-49 demographic over all ten episodes. At its peak, 1.87 million viewers tuned in.

RTL 2 program director Holger Andersen said the programming experiment was meant to take into account the “altered viewing habits in the era of Internet, VoD and DVD.”

It also established the Thrones franchise in Germany ahead of the hotly anticipated debut of season two, which airs on HBO in the U.S. April 1.

Germany is the largest television market in Europe but it has proved notoriously difficult to crack for high-end drama series, in part due to the lack of a strong local pay-TV market.

HBO’s True Blood and Showtime’s Dexter have been ratings flops on RTL 2 here, both drawing less than half a million viewers for a market share in the 14-49 demo of around 4 per cent.