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REUTERS/Phil Noble
Plot twist: The next ruler of King’s Landing?
ROUGH 24 HOURS

British “Game of Thrones” fans will have a rough 24 hours ahead of them

By Annabelle Timsit in London

The US and UK have a “special relationship,” but on Sunday (May 19), a wide gulf will separate Americans from Brits—and it’s all because of Game of Thrones.

More than 18 million US viewers are expected to tune in to watch the final episode of HBO’s eight-season-long hit show. This season has already obliterated HBO’s viewership records: The network said each episode of season 8 attracted 43 million overall viewers, including those who watched on DVR playbacks and later streaming.

It’s clear that Game of Thrones is a hugely popular franchise, and not just in the US. In the UK, 2.3 million people watched the season 8 premiere, and that figure doesn’t include people who watched the episode later, or who streamed it illegally. (Some reports say Game of Thrones is one of the most-pirated shows in TV history.)

But a gulf of about 24 hours separates American fans of the show from their British counterparts. American viewers can watch the finale on HBO at 9pm US Eastern time on Sunday. Very committed Brits can sacrifice sleep and watch it at 2am their time on Monday morning on Sky Atlantic, or watch it at the saner time of 9pm on Monday night on Sky and Now TV.

Of course, given that millions of American fans will have already watched the finale—and if precedent is anything to go by, they’ll have thoughts—British fans may want to turn off the internet, bury their phones, and hide in a bunker to avoid spoilers during the day on Monday.