By JENNA JOHNSON
First, I have to start out by saying that I have waited years to be able to actually write a school assignment regarding “Game of Thrones.” So I will try my hardest to stay unbiased and keep this post about the media. (No promises.)
Sunday marked the season premier of the fourth season of the show, with more than 6.6 million viewers tuning in on HBO. The final count was 8.2 million after viewers watched the reruns on HBO Go.
“Game of Thrones” has steadily increased its viewership since its inception in 2011. Additionally, it is the most successful HBO show since “The Sopranos.”
In this digital age, the media have to measure audiences in a variety of ways. Not only do they record the number who tune in to the show “live,” but also the reruns, on-demand services, and streaming services such as Netflix or HBO Go.
Did I mention that the amount of viewers watching HBO Go crashed the server?
Yeah. It’s that good.
What is interesting about “Game of Thrones” is that it is exclusive to HBO. It cannot (legally) be watched anywhere else. So that means, all 8.2 million viewers who watched the show Sunday night paid for it.
In an earlier blog post, I agreed with the notion that consumers don’t care about the platform they receive the entertainment from, as long as they receive it. However, I was mostly thinking about platforms that are free.
A total of 9.3 million viewers tuned in for the 10th season premier of ABC’s top rated show, “Grey’s Anatomy.” And that show is broadcast over the air. Viewers don’t even have to have cable to watch it.
Thus, “Grey’s Anatomy” grossed just more than a million viewers beyond that of “Game of Thrones,” even though it’s free to watch.
Apparently audiences are willing to cough up the dough for uninterrupted access to their favorite shows. This can also be seen from the success of subscription based entertainment companies such as Netflix, which has been used more widely for streaming than actually sending DVDs, its intended purpose.
So what is it that is making “Game of Thrones” so incredibly successful?
It may have to do with the fact that HBO Go allows audiences to watch the shows available on HBO on-demand, albeit an hour later than the live premier (but who watches live now anyway? Well, except for the 6.6 million who tuned in to GoT live, of course).
However, most television shows have a live premier and some sort of service similar to HBO Go that allows the episode to be watched later so that it can count toward the audience measurement.
To me, Game of Thrones is almost certainly the exception, not the rule for HBO viewership. The makers know they have something so great that people will pay HBO to watch it.
And, the reason for that has an exceedingly simple, irrefutable, probably-not-media related answer: “Game of Thrones” is awesome.