Yes, you read that right. Game of Thrones will be broadcast, uncensored, on a major TV network…in Canada. What, you didn’t think NBC would go for something like this, did you?
Specifically, Canada’s CTV Television Network, the biggest network in the country, will air every episode of Game of Thrones Season 1 in marathon format starting on Monday, August 8. One episode will air on each weeknight, wrapping up with “Fire and Blood” on Friday, August 19.
Predictably, the network is excited about the prospect. “Game of Thrones has never been more popular and now it’s time to make Season 1 available to every Canadian viewer,” said Mike Cosentino, the network’s Senior Vice-President of Programming, in a press release. “A Season 1 marathon is not just timely, but the perfect summer alternative in 2016 and we are excited to offer all 10 episodes in this unaltered format.”
The Game of Thrones Season 6 finale was the most-watched episode of the show so far, so popularity seems to be surging ahead of the big finish in Seasons 7 and 8. Exposing the show to new viewers who might not have access to HBO can only accelerate this process. “Bringing our biggest show ever to CTV’s massive audience is also a fantastic opportunity to showcase both the series and HBO Canada,” said Tracey Pearce, CTV Senior Vice-President, Specialty and Pay. “We’re excited to engage Canadians who will discover the series for the first time and to let them know that all episodes and seasons of current HBO programming is available to subscribers on-demand, 24/7, via TMN GO.”
According to the press release, the episodes will air with “reduced commercial time.” It also cautions that, “Viewer discretion is advised.” Well, yeah.
This is a pretty bold move, and I’m curious to see if any other broadcast networks will try to follow in CTV’s footsteps. The anecdotal consensus seems to be that, now that the show is nearing an endpoint, people who so far haven’t seen Game of Thrones are willing to binge-watch it. Airing it in this kind of format can only help the networks, HBO, and the show.