'Game of Thrones' Marathon to Air on Conventional TV (in Canada)

Game of Thrones S6 Still 5 H 2016
Courtesy of Macall B. Polay/HBO

Buzz for the sixth season on HBO Canada will build with the first season set to air on free network CTV each weeknight for 10 straight episodes.

HBO's Game of Thrones is headed to a North American conventional TV network premiere.

Canada's CTV said it will air a Game of Thrones marathon on the free, over-the-air network each weeknight for 10 straight episodes of the first season, Aug. 8-19. The HBO fantasy epic airs exclusively on HBO Canada.

CTV is adding the rookie season to its summer schedule to build buzz around the sixth season on its pay TV channel. CTV also claims the Game of Thrones marathon marks the first time the series has aired on network TV in North America.

The summer conventional TV scheduling echoes CTV in 2000 debuting another HBO drama, The Sopranos, on free, over-the-air TV as counter-programming to the Summer Olympics that year in Sydney, Australia. The HBO drama will air uncut and with viewer disclaimers on CTV and promises reduced commercial airtime.

"Game of Thrones has never been more popular, and now it's time to make season one available to every Canadian viewer," Mike Cosentino, senior vp programming at CTV Networks and CraveTV, said Thursday in a statement.

CTV is paying for the privilege to showcase HBO's flagship series on conventional TV.  Parent Bell Media has a long-term licensing deal with HBO that makes the broadcaster the exclusive home of series such as Game of Thrones and True Detective over the next decade.

The agreement, similar to the multiyear deal HBO had with Amazon Prime, includes 850 hours of scripted programming from shows such as The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm on top of HBO movies, documentaries and stand-up and music specials.