Digital Transformation

Game of Thrones continues to be primary vehicle for HBO Go and HBO Now growth

By Adam Flomenbaum | Co-Executive Editor

April 22, 2016 | 5 min read

Consumers looking forward to exciting OTT and TV Everywhere announcements from HBO should wait until March or April. Every year, it seems, HBO makes an announcement just in time to provide more viewers with the ability to watch Game of Thrones.

This week, HBO announced that HBO NOW will be available to Xbox and Samsung Smart TV users ahead of Sunday’s Game of Thrones premiere.

“The anticipation for Game of Thrones is at an all-time high so we’re thrilled to bring HBO NOW to Samsung TV users in time for the new season,” said Jeff Dallesandro, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Digital Distribution and Business Development, HBO. “By streaming HBO NOW directly on a Samsung TV, consumers can watch epic, event-level programming in premium quality on a big screen—making for a tremendous viewing experience.”

With competition coming from all sides, HBO knows just how important Game of Thrones is to its brand.

“This weekend HBO will roll out its programming bell cow, Game of Thrones, which to no surprise is the central driver of digital content engagement for the company that brought us Tony Soprano,” said Assaf Henkin, SVP of Brand Intelligence at Amobee. "But, is HBO putting too many (dragon) eggs in the Game of Thrones basket, as emerging content players such as Netflix, Amazon, Showtime, Hulu and Starz begin to plot their assent to the content throne? Time will tell if HBO has additional original programming to fuel its marketing and connection with subscribers.”

Amobee measures digital content engagement across 600,000 sites on mobile, video, web and social. With Season 6 upon us, Amobee looked at content consumption habits around HBO and its flagship show, Game of Thrones:

• Game of Thrones is most strategically important to HBO generating interest for themselves as a standalone, over the top service. Between March 18, 2015 - April 18, 2016; 19% of all digital content engagement around either HBO or HBO Go was Game of Thrones related. In comparison during the same time period; 28% of all digital content engagement around HBO Now was Game of Thrones related.

• HBO doesn’t not have a deep bench of new content right now. Between March 18, 2015 - April 18, 2016; there was at least 4.2X more digital content around Game of Thrones than around any other program on HBO, with Vice generating the next most HBO related digital content engagement. In the same time period; Game of Thrones generated 4.9X more HBO related digital content engagement than Girls; the comedy with the most HBO related digital content engagement; and 6.3X more HBO related digital content engagement than True Detective; the HBO drama with the next more channel related digital content engagement. Vinyl which was supposed to be HBO’s next great program; only generated 6% as much HBO related digital content engagement as Game of Thrones in the last 13 months.

• Since the last original episode of Game of Thrones came out; looking at June 14, 2015 - April 18, 2016; 17% of all Game of Thrones related digital content engagement has been John Snow related; as the audience speculates if he’s really dead or not. In comparison in the same time period; only 6% of Game of Thrones related digital content engagement was around Tyrion Lannister, the fan favorite with the next highest amount of digital interest around him.

• Game of Thrones is the undisputed biggest show on television right now. In the last three months; meaning January 18 - April 18, there was 24% more digital content engagement around Game of Thrones than around The Walking Dead; even though The Walking Dead was in-season and Game of Thrones wasn’t. That reflects the level of interest in the return of GoT; and disappointment in the Negan themed TWD storyline, where a major character was supposedly killed; and it won’t be revealed which one until the show returns next Fall.

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