What the end of Game of Thrones could financially mean for HBO

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With the end of its most popular series, HBO and its owner, AT&T, are preparing for an exodus of subscribers and they must know how to manage it

What the end of Game of Thrones could financially mean for HBO

After nine years, eight seasons and 73 episodes, on Sunday, May 19, HBO aired the final episode of one of the most watched and commented series of recent years: Games of Thrones. The statistics show the importance of the series inspired by the novels of George RR Martin. According to HBO, Game of Thrones has been broadcasted on television in 207 countries and territories, and through other media (such as DVD, Blu-ray and IMAX) in 194 countries and territories; the audience increased with each season, going from 9.3 million viewers in the United States for the first season to 32.9 million in the United States for the seventh.

Leer en español: Lo que podría significar financieramente el final de Game of Thrones para HBO

According to statistics published by both HBO and Yahoo!, the eighth season continued with the trend, achieving a 50% increase in activity on HBO NOW (one of the HBO streaming platforms) during the premiere of the season and achieving an average audience of 43 million viewers in the United States.

Now, after the end of Game of Thrones, HBO and its new owner, AT & T (the company that bought WarnerMedia for USD $ 85.4 billion last year), face a difficult future. According to The Observer, when HBO debuted the seventh season of the series in 2017, subscriptions to HBO NOW increased by 91%. However, these new subscribers disappeared as soon as the season ended. Both Observer and NBC News have pointed out that an even bigger exodus is expected after the end of the series. If you put Game of Thrones in perspective, comparing it with other popular and critically acclaimed HBO series, you can see the reasons behind these claims.

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For example, Veep, a series that has maintained a score of more than 85 in Metacritic since its third season and has won at least one annual Emmy since its premiere, aired its last episode a week before Game of Thrones but it only attracted one audience of 1.6 million viewers in the United States. Moreover, according to Yahoo!, there is no HBO's series, apart from Game of Thrones, that achieves an audience of more than 1.6 million American viewers.

The end of the most popular HBO series could also affect the actions of AT&T. According to The Financial Times, stock market analysts are not very optimistic about the future of the company's future when compared to streaming giants Netflix and Disney, which will launch their own streaming platform in November. However, after a week of the end of Game of Thrones, AT & T shares have not fluctuated in an irregular manner.

Strategies to face the exodus

The truth is that AT&T and HBO must prepare for a future without Game of Thrones, and everything indicates that they are doing so. On the one hand, Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, confirmed last year that the chain is preparing a spin-off series of Game of Thrones which could see the light in the coming years. Although this is the first time in the history of HBO that they produce a series derived from another one, Observer indicates that it is expected that in the future they follow this strategy to be able to fight with Netflix.

On the other hand, AT&T announced late last year that, like Disney, they plan to launch its own streaming platform during the final months of 2019. With the purpose of combating with Netflix, Disney + and Hulu, the AT&T's streaming platform will include content from HBO, WarnerMedia and Turner, which means that in this you can see Game of Thrones, Westworld, children's series produced by Cartoon Network and movies as popular as the Harry Potter saga.

Also, a few weeks ago, Randal Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, declared that all content owned by WarnerMedia will be removed from streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu to be offered exclusively on the AT & T platform; this includes popular series such as Friends, ER, and The Office.

According to The Verge, this new streaming platform will have three possible subscription levels: the lowest will only offer films produced by WarnerMedia; the intermediate will add to these the series and film offerings that have been a blockbuster, also produced by WarnerMedia; and the highest will include original HBO series. The Financial Times also reported that AT&T has considered including a cheaper subscription plan that includes commercials.

It remains to be seen if this plan manages to keep HBO and AT&T afloat in the streaming platform competition. Meanwhile, the truth is that the most valuable thing about HBO is the quality of its contents. Recently, Mark Zagorski, CEO of Telaria (a platform that Hulu uses to manage and monetize the commercials in his videos), stated that "HBO's competitive advantage continues to be its incredibly high-quality programming, so maintaining this element is going to be vital to keep your subscribers as they exponentially grow their own programming library. "

Zagorski's claim seems to be justified by the fact that, according to the Financial Times, HBO's reputation for content quality has made the chain a financial and critical success, reaching annual profits of approximately US $ 6 billion and Winning a large number of awards for the quality of their series.


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Diego Bogotá

Translated from "Lo que podría significar financieramente el final de Game of Thrones para HBO"