Game of Thrones Returns In A Big Way
HBO’s Game of Thrones returned on Sunday night, April 12, with its highly anticipated first episode of season five. And as many of us Game of Thrones fans were not surprised to hear, the show’s audience continues to grow. This, obviously, is great news for HBO.
Eight million total viewers tuned in for the season premiere, according to Nielsen. This is up 11% over Game of Thrones’ previous series high of 7.195 million viewers, set during the seventh episode of season four. To give you an idea of how impressive this is, consider this – only about thirty million households subscribe to HBO, less than 1/3 the number of households that get broadcast networks. Game of Thrones beat everything on broadcast with ease in the Adult 18-49 demo the night of the 12th, with a 4.2 rating (also a series high and up 14% from last year’s premiere which had a 3.6 rating). In fact, the only broadcast show that scored a better rating (Adults 18-49) during the entire week that ended on April 13 was the NCAA men’s basketball tournament championship game, which averaged a 9.1 rating on CBS.
HBO, of course, doesn’t sell advertising during its programming, so while numbers like these make media buyers salivate, it ultimately doesn’t do us much good. HBO hopes that stellar ratings create buzz around the network, which leads to more subscriptions, which then leads to more revenue. The network is also hoping the big season premiere creates additional buzz for the new HBO Now service, which allows viewers to “get around” cable and watch HBO programming on mobile phones, Rokus, and many other devices. Word is that many watched the Game of Thrones season premiere via HBO Now, though HBO has yet to release those numbers.
So, the forecast appears quite bright for HBO. As Cersei Lannister said, “When you play The Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Well, so far, it is all winning.