'Game of Thrones' Sets Pay-TV Audience Record in Australia

Courtesy of HBO

More than half a million viewers watched the season 5 premiere.

Record numbers of Australian viewers tuned in to watch the season five premiere of Game of Thrones Monday, according to ratings figures released by broadcaster Foxtel, despite Australia’s reputation for rampant pirating and the online leaks of the first four episodes over the weekend.

Premiering at 11 a.m. local time, in line with HBO’s simultaneous worldwide release of the hit fantasy series, the season opener was watched by more than 242,000 viewers on premium drama channel Showcase. A further 311,000 tuned in at 7.30 p.m., for a day one audience of 553,000. Foxtel is available in 2.6 million Australian homes. 

That figure was up 76 percent from the season four premiere, making it the most watched series on pay TV in Australia ever.

The figures do not include viewers for the first episode which streamed live on Foxtel Play — Foxtel’s IPTV service — or time-shifted viewing on the day. Foxtel will release consolidated audience figures for all screenings of the show in the next ten days.

Foxtel, half owned by News Corp, has an exclusive output deal with HBO and dropped the price of a Foxtel Play streaming subscription for three months from mid-April.

Over 1,800 people, including former Star Trek star George Takei, watched the action from Westeros and Meereen unfold on the big screen at a special screening at the Sydney Opera House Monday.