'Game of Thrones' Crowned Top On-Demand Show of 2018 Even Though No New Episodes Aired

Game of Thrones somehow became the most popular on-demand TV show of 2018, despite not airing a single new episode.

Game of Thrones finished its seventh and latest season back in August of 2017. It will have been on hiatus for nearly two years when Season 8 begins in April, yet that did not stop fans from reliving the adventure this year. According to data from Comcast, first reported by USA Today, Game of Thrones was still the most-watched on-demand show of the 2018.

This shows the kind of dedication — or obsession — that simply cannot be bought by TV networks. Game of Thrones gave fans little to get excited about this year. The show released one new still image in November, a couple of seconds of new footage back in August, and a 55-second teaser just last week.

But even these did not offer much to rave about. The picture showed Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, looking much like they did last year. The footage back in August, meanwhile, was mixed with old scenes from the show as well as other HBO series.

The teaser consisted only of symbolic animations, showing fire and ice consuming the map-table in Dragonstone from both sides. While it is exciting and climactic, it delivers nothing new to fans who are waiting to see who ends up on the Iron Throne and how they combat the Night King and his army of undead.

Still, the promos and teasers may have had little to do with Game of Thrones' unlikely success this year. The show has been a cultural sensation for several years, and its culmination in one final season is a massive event. It is also a media curiosity, as the novels upon which it is based, A Song of Ice and Fire, are now considerably behind the events of the show itself.

To compound that unusual time line, author George R.R. Martin did not release his sixth volume in the series this year, which he has been at work on for seven years now. Instead, he published a fictional history of the country of Westeros, Fire and Blood, which traced the reign of the Targaryen dragon-riders starting 300 years before the events of the main series.

That book could very well have helped the show's numbers this year, although the crossover between readers and show-watchers is not always huge. Anticipation for the final season was also a factor, as devoted fans revisited the show and new viewers jumped on board for the climax.


New viewers had their work cut out for them avoiding spoilers, however. An ad campaign in New York City outraged some fans, as posters in subway stations spoiled major plot points of the show. They showed character deaths that built suspense for several seasons in some cases, and fans lashed out at HBO for depriving new fans of that surprise.

Whatever the case, there is little doubt that Game of Thrones' final season will be the TV event of 2019, as the show finally returns with new episodes. The saga concludes in April of 2019 on HBO.