HBO’s ‘GoT’ Premiere Handles OTT Stress Test

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The over-the-top premiere of the fifth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones on Sunday night came off nearly without a hitch, as a subset of Sling TV customers experienced issues when trying to catch the live stream of HBO via the Roku platform.

The premiere episode of GoT drew a lot of attention following the launch of HBO Now, HBO’s new unbundled, stand-alone service initially offered via Apple and Cablevision Systems’ Optimum Online service, and the launch of HBO on Sling TV, Dish Network’s over-the-top TV service for cord-cutters. While HBO Now is VOD-only, Sling TV's version of HBO includes a linear live stream and VOD. 

Users on Twitter and TV Predictions detailed some of the issues Sling TV had on Roku Sunday night.

Sling TV, which struggled with streaming demand issues during the semi-final games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on April 4, got an improved result with GoT on Sunday, though Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch acknowledged in this blog post (opens in new tab) that some of its customers experienced slow load times when accessing the app on the Roku platform on Sunday night. 

In anticipation of the new season of GoT, Sling TV moved ahead on some service enhancements and upgrades designed to reduce overhead and server load during periods of heavy viewership. Those “core system” updates aimed to improve the experience “from account creation to service delivery,” Lynch noted. 

“Overall, we successfully delivered a great experience to the vast majority of our customers,” Lynch added. “Where we truly improved was among those who may have experienced streaming errors in the past – we saw tremendous gains.”

Sling TV’s customer care Twitter handle (@SlingAnswers) addressed subscriber issued directly on Sunday night, directing them to restart the Roku app while also noting that that subscribers who missed part of the live feed could watch the season five premiere of GoT from the beginning by watching it on-demand.

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield got a heavy dose of Game of Thrones on Sunday night, tweeting that he was able to view the live and on-demand version of the show on Sling TV as well as via the HBO Now service without issue.

HBO, meanwhile, was dealing with other issues ahead of Sunday’s premiere, as the first four episodes from the new season leaked online. HBO said it believed the copies “originated from within a group approved by HBO” to receive those episodes, adding that it is “actively assessing how this breach occurred.”