On Sunday night, fans will watch the series finale of HBO's "Game of Thrones," ending their own nightly watch — but not all may be willing to let go after the 80-minute episode ends.
Instead, an estimated 4.9 million Americans will extend the mourning period for their favorite HBO fantasy epic well beyond that evening and skip work the following day, by either calling out sick or using a last-minute vacation day, according to a new poll by the Workforce Institute at Kronos.
That's in addition to the 5.8 million employees who typically work Sunday nights who are also planning to use a vacation day, sick day, or personal day so that they can see which leader ascends to the Iron Throne in the finale live.
Altogether, the last episode of "Game of Thrones" will sidetrack 27.2 million workers in the U.S. through Sunday night and into Monday, the study found.
While 10.7 million will be no-shows, another 2.9 million are expected to arrive late to the office Monday morning and 3.4 million admit they've arranged to work remotely, even though they typically do not. Millions more will be less productive than usual that Monday as they spend work hours discussing the show's conclusion with coworkers, reading stories about the episode online, or posting about its ending.
Despite being one of TV's most successful shows and drawing 18.4 million viewers to its penultimate episode, the "Game of Thrones" finale pales in terms of its potential workplace disruption when compared to another Sunday night juggernaut: the Super Bowl.
Kronos estimates that about 17.2 million people were sidelined the Monday after Super Bowl LIII saw the Patriots beat the Rams. And nearly 22 million more went into work late, left early, or worked remotely that day.
Of course, that's not surprising given the many parties thrown around the event and the fact that 32% of workers believe the day after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday.
But when Kronos looked at how the whole final season of "Game of Thrones" has been impacting workers, the show might cost companies as much as the Super Bowl in terms of lost productivity.
Since season eight debuted on April 14, 20.4 million employees say the show has affected their attendance and performance at work. About 4.4 million employees have already missed a day of work in the past five weeks to stream re-runs to refresh their memory on key plotlines or catch up on missed episodes.
And a staggering 35.8 million employees admit to spending at least one hour per week on the clock talking about, reading about, or posting online about "Game of Thrones" — even if they don't actively watch the show.
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