Maisie Williams (aka Arya Stark) on the Game of Thrones cast:
“They treat each other so wonderfully and we all respect each other so much” #GameofThronesFinale Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” marks the end of the award-winning series and perhaps of an era of scripted TV shows capturing a wide audience.
The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” has been averaging about 17 million viewers each week on the premium cable network at a time when viewers have a crush of channels and streaming services from which to choose.
Its success won’t be easily duplicated, media analysts say. Leigh Camacho Rourks, an assistant professor of English and humanities at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, said the sword-and-sorcery drama leverages nail-biting narratives for the digital age.
The show marries “cliffhangers and shocking, unexpected turns with social media’s rise” to create must-see TV 2.0, she said.
Viewers can record episodes and watch them at their convenience, but that means a random Twitter or Facebook fan may spoil the surprises ahead, she said.
“Anything can happen at any time. No one is safe,” Ms. Camacho Rourks said of a show renowned for killing off major characters such as the noble Ned Stark and the savage Khal Drogo. “To get the best of what ‘Game of Thrones’ roller-coaster-like jolts have to offer, watchers need to walk in blind, spoiler-free,” she said.
Long gone are the days when most of the nation would gather around the TV set to watch the finale of a popular broadcast. “M*A*S*H” drew 106 million viewers for its send-off in 1983, and “Seinfeld” attracted 76.3 million viewers for its last episode in 1998.
But CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” the No. 1 comedy on broadcast television won just 12.25 million viewers for its penultimate episode last week. Ratings for Thursday night’s finale were unavailable at press time.
These days, watching a show with your Twitter account open creates an experience that past TV smashes can’t compete with.
The rewards for watching “Game of Thrones” on first airing begin with a lavish production design once relegated to feature films.
The show’s production crews have traveled to 10 countries over its eight seasons, including 50 locations in Ireland and treks to Croatia, Iceland and Morocco.
The price tag for such extravagance isn’t cheap. The final season is setting HBO back roughly $15 million per episode.
Those figures were once unheard of for a television series.
Prestige shows including “The Sopranos” typically went as high as $2 million per installment. Now, programs such as Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” ($8 million per episode) and the network’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series ($250 million for the rights alone) are becoming the norm for high-end fare.
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