After bringing down HBO Go, series 4 of "Game of Thrones" has seen another online streaming service crash harder than a drunk dragon.
Under the strain of demand for the first episode of the new series of HBO's "Game of Thrones", UK streaming service Now TV buckled like a hedge knight's shield beneath Sandor Clegane's broadsword -- much to the dismay of viewers.
UK fans with a Sky dish and satellite subscription were able to return to Westeros side-by-side with US viewers as Sky broadcast the first episode on television in the small hours of Sunday night, at the same time as the US premiere. But in stark contrast, when viewers who don't have a dish attempted to watch on Sky's online service Now TV, they encountered error messages telling them they were using too many devices -- leaving fans more disappointed than a guest at the Red Wedding who turned up expecting a bit of a dance and a nice buffet.
"We're aware of a number of reports of NOW TV not working this evening. You might experience slow loading times or error messages which stop you from watching content," says a spokesperson in the Now TV support forum. By 11pm that same spokesperson dispatched a raven to inform viewers that "most customers are now able to use NOW TV as normal, but we're continuing to investigate and will provide a further update when we can."
Sky told me today that viewers should be able to watch the episode now, and it's also available on the Sky Go on-demand streaming service. Update: Sky adds that customers will be offered a "gesture of goodwill." In an email to customers, fans have been offered a free month of Now TV to make up for the pain.
You stream or you die
"It's too bloody late now!" grumbled viewer J_e_n_williams, furious at being kept waiting for her "Thrones" fix. "Should never have signed up and will be warning everyone I know against it."
Many viewers were angrier than a direwolf with fleas. "It's you that's having technical difficulties, not us. Sort it out and deliver the service we've all paid for," says Itwillnotdie. "I told you this would happen last Friday," says Fantorgasmastic. "I TOLD YOU and you completely ignored my comments." Wait, Sky ignored Fantorgasmastic? No wonder there were problems!
Some viewers went as far as cutting off Now TV like an enemy's head. "Just been on and cancelled, thanks for nothing, stick with @netflix!" says Santoka.
Meanwhile the sage Oscarforest gets to the heart of the matter, referring to the "Thrones"-themed Sky adverts currently plastering every flat surface in Britain: "you would have thought with the amount you publicised it you would be ready!"
Technical problems aside, Now TV remains a belter of a bargain. For a mere £5 per month, new episodes of "Game of Thrones" and "True Detective" are joined by every single episode of classic shows from "The Wire" to "Mad Men" and "Girls". Still, that doesn't excuse a complete failure of the most hotly-anticipated -- and heavily-advertised -- show of the year.
British broadcaster Sky has an exclusive deal for HBO shows in the UK, and the two networks have plans to make programmes together in future. Here's hoping they fix their respective streaming services in the meantime.