'Game of Thrones' Season 6 kicks off with high ratings globally

The sixth season of the HBO fantasy drama premièred on April 24 and the program set records in Britain and Australia.

Macall B. Polay/HBO
'Game of Thrones' stars Peter Dinklage (r.) and Conleth Hill (l.).

Ratings continued to be high for the sixth season première of the HBO drama "Game of Thrones," though in the United States, they received some help from streaming platforms to get there.

"Thrones," which debuted on April 24, had 7.9 million viewers tuning in to watch, according to Nielsen. When streaming numbers are added in from such services as HBO Go and HBO Now, that number climbs to 10.7 million viewers. This year's numbers show consistency in strong performances for "Thrones" premières. In 2015, about 8 million viewers tuned in for Season 5 opener.

And that success is continuing abroad as well. In Britain, the première of Season 6 gave network Sky Atlantic the best overnight ratings ever. In Australia, "Thrones" also performed extremely well, with the Season 6 première airing on Foxtel and the episode becoming the most-viewed show on a subscription channel ever.

These numbers show the international appeal of the program that takes place in a fictional fantasy land known as Westeros and stars various non-American actors. (Actor Peter Dinklage is one of the few actors from the US on the show.)

International viewership can be important for HBO. "HBO is a global business," Slate writer June Thomas noted in 2012. "It has about 60 million subscribers outside the United States – mostly in Central Europe, Latin America, and Asia – and it licenses its programs to channels around the world.... ['Game of Thrones' and its] epic tales of clans and kingship travel particularly well."

Richard Plepler, chief of HBO, announced earlier this year that HBO streaming will arrive in Argentina and Brazil. Business Insider writer Nathan McAlone notes that this echoes Netflix's strategy, which seems to involve going after international viewers as well.

"Now we're starting to see that HBO wants to become more like Netflix – particularly with regards to international expansion and supersizing production," writes Mr. McAlone. "[HBO's plans] echoes Netflix almost exactly, which has said it will double its production of originals this year, and produce a whopping 600 hours of original content, and which recently added 130 new countries. Netflix's thesis is that it can soar to profitability by creating a ton of (globally available) original content, and simultaneously expanding its subscriber base to reduce its cost per user."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.