Game of Thrones season premiere breaks records

Trailers for HBO fantasy drama sparked strong reactions from devoted Arab fans

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Middle East fans of the hit U.S. fantasy drama Game of Thrones finally got to watch the highly anticipated new season on Monday night, as the first episode premiered across the region on the OSN television network.

The show broke viewership records in the United States on Sunday, as 6.6 million people watched the season premiere, marking HBO’s highest viewership since The Sopranos finale in 2007, Time reported.

HBO said its online viewing app, HBO Go, experienced technical difficulties under heavy demand, which made it difficult for some users to access the show.

“HBO Go did experience issues due to overwhelming demand around the premiere of Game of Thrones,” the broadcaster said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The drama, based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling novels, debuted in 2011 and depicts the struggle over power between seven mythical kingdoms. The series has gained a dedicated global fan base, reported to include U.S. President Barack Obama.

HBO released several trailers leading up to the new season earlier in March, sparking reactions on social media from fans in the Middle East.

Now the premiere is drawing more reactions and expectations for the rest of the season.

“The first episode was very good but not as exciting as I wanted it to be! But clearly it is setting the stage for a fabulous season,” @Fas0le tweeted Monday night.

@Kroom_a7mad from Kuwait reacted after watching the new episode saying, “Game of Thrones is the most powerful series don’t tell me otherwise.”

The new season began after the slaughter of members of the Stark family, main characters in the show, in the "Red Wedding" episode last season. The season-four premiere saw the remaining Starks coming to terms with the deaths.

Audiences saw Arya Stark, played by 16-year-old Maisie Williams, take a dark, cruel turn as she exacts revenge for her family.

"Game of Thrones" averages a gross audience of 14.4 million per episode. That figure includes viewers who record the show and watch it later in the week, which is popular among the network's viewers.

(With AFP)