‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Premiere Will Be Free on Xbox

Premium cabler also releases first episode of 'Silicon Valley' free on YouTube

HBO will let all Microsoft Xbox users watch the first episode of “Game of Thrones” season four — on track to become the most-pirated TV episode ever — for free starting Tuesday.

The episode will be available on Microsoft Xbox 360 and Xbox One from April 8-14, in a sampling strategy designed to drive non-HBO subscribers to sign up for the service.

SEE ALSO: ‘Game of Thrones’ Piracy for Season 4 Premiere Reaches Record Levels

In addition to Xbox, the episode of HBO’s hit fantasy series is available to pay-TV subscribers on the websites and free on-demand platforms of multiple cable and satellite providers during the sampling period. All episodes from previous seasons of “Game of Thrones” are currently available on HBO Go — which suffered an outage when the season-four premiere became available on Sunday night.

On TV, the “GoT” season-four premiere garnered 6.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates, up 50% from the season-three opener (4.37 million) and triple the 2.2 million who watched the show’s inaugural telecast in April 2011. It was the biggest TV audience for any HBO program since the 2007 finale of “The Sopranos,” which drew 11.9 million.

The popularity of “Game of Thrones” also makes it an unprecedented target for pirates: 1.17 million unique IP addresses accessed illegal torrents of the season-four premiere within the first 15 hours of the episode popping up online, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. That’s more than the third-season opener in April 2013, which drew 1.15 million downloaders in the first 24 hours.

An HBO rep said the sampling deal with Microsoft for Xbox had been in the works for some time, and that it wasn’t a response to piracy estimates for the episode.

Separately, HBO on Monday posted the first episode of Mike Judge’s comedy “Silicon Valley” free on YouTube. “Silicon Valley,” a spoof of Internet startup culture, premiered Sunday following the “GoT” season-four opener. The episode will be available free on YouTube until April 28.

More Digital

  • Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]


    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content