Game of Thrones may be crowned most watched HBO series

The show has amassed an unparalleled following since its premiere in 2011.

Reuters March 29, 2014
With numerous characters and intertwining plots, Game of Thrones is a must-watch. PHOTO: FILE


Mystical ice creatures, fire-breathing dragons, and the people caught in between return to the small screen come April 6, when HBO’s Game of Thrones unsheathes a fourth season that could see it crowned as the cable network’s most watched series in history.

The medieval fantasy drama’s fan base has grown substantially over its first three seasons, with sizable followings among both men and women thanks to its wrenching interpersonal relationships and complex plotting.

The show is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels by George R.R. Martin, of which five of an expected seven have been published. It takes place in the fictional world of Westeros, following more than two dozen regular characters amid a war for dominion between noble houses.

In addition to the squabbling between regions and families, the characters also face external threats, including dragons and the ‘White Walkers’, nearly unkillable creatures from the far northern part of the world who can animate the dead.

Last year, the show averaged 14.4 million viewers across all platforms, only about 50,000 viewers shy of HBO’s most-watched show ever, the sixth season of the mob family drama The Sopranos. As Game of Thrones has grown and its reach has expanded - it airs in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide - so too has the business of the show.

HBO’s subscription revenue grew by 6 percent, or $221 million, in 2013, according to earnings reports from its parent, Time Warner Inc. The company noted in its August results that viewership for Thrones rose 20 percent. The franchise has spawned 350 kinds of merchandise available on HBO’s website, and while a fifth season has not been officially renewed, according to an HBO spokeswoman, but the show’s success makes it hard to imagine it won’t keep going.

The cast members see it as well, particularly on social media. Maisie Williams, 16, who plays fan favorite Arya Stark, said she picked up more than 40,000 followers on Twitter during the off-season. She has a big fan base on other social media sites like Vine and Instagram.

Williams is one of the 29 regular characters on the show, most of whom fall somewhere between good and evil on the moral spectrum. Some, including the conflicted, incestuous knight Jaime Lannister, played by Nicolaj-Coster Waldau, have seen their morals shift over time, as his character has become one of the more sympathetic over the course of the show.

“You realize no one is good and no one is bad,” said actress Williams. “We’re starting to see the other side to these evil characters.

“And then there’s Joffrey.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2014.

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