Game of Thrones is ending—How huge of an issue is that for HBO?

We all know Game of Thrones is a big hit. During season 6, a mean of 23 million Americans tuned in to observe every week. In an age of fragmented viewership, the place there are extra TV present choices out there than ever earlier than and extra individuals abandon conventional TV for streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu, that’s not simply spectacular; it’s rattling close to miraculous. Those are the sorts of numbers NBC could be joyful to have for Friends again within the ’90s, when TV was far much less fragmented.

And Game of Thrones has worth past rankings. While watching the season 7 premiere, followers generated round 1.6 million tweets. In Hollywood, it’s not nearly what number of eyeballs you will have in your present; it’s additionally about how a lot buzz you generate, and Game of Thrones generates lots of buzz. That’s vital to HBO’s fame because the world’s premiere content material creator, a fame it’s been in a position to keep even in an age the place Netflix and Amazon and others are attempting to chop in on its territory with their very own splashy, common, prestigious exhibits. Thanks in no small half to Game of Thrones, to this point HBO has been in a position to hold exhibits like Stranger Things and Homeland and Outlander at bay.

But HBO has an issue: Game of Thrones ends subsequent yr, with a ultimate season that’s certain to turn into one among largest tv occasions in historical past. What then? Does the underside fall out of HBO’s enterprise mannequin? What is HBO if it doesn’t have Game of Thrones, which is the uncommon present that’s each critically lauded and broadly common? In brief, what does the community stand to lose when Game of Thrones ends?

The Motley Fool, a monetary providers firm that gives recommendation for traders, lately tried to reply that query, and its conclusions are each stunning and predictable. Let’s take a more in-depth look.

First of all, The Motley Fool concludes that HBO isn’t more likely to lose a lot cash after Game of Thrones is over for one quite simple cause: HBO’s income relies on subscribers, not adverts. Had Game of Thrones been on a significant community (I do know that’s inconceivable given the all of the intercourse and violence, however roll with me right here), its ending would have been devastating, as a result of advertisers would not be competing with one another to hawk their merchandise through the industrial breaks. But assuming a crucial mass of individuals don’t drop their HBO subscriptions when Thrones wraps up, HBO received’t take a lot of a success.

And if historical past is any information, not a ton of individuals will drop their subscriptions, or no less than, not sufficient to matter within the brief run. This isn’t the primary time HBO has had the most popular present on TV. Before Game of Thrones redefined tv for the 2010s, The Sopranos redefined it for the 2000s. Critics nervous that after The Sopranos resulted in 2007, HBO would have a disaster on its arms, however in 2008, Time Warner’s cable income really rose by 8%. HBO had different exhibits like True Blood and Boardwalk Empire to carry viewers’ curiosity. That tided them over till Thrones got here alongside.

From a enterprise perspective, having alternate options to Game of Thrones will likely be key to holding on to subscribes after the present wraps. And HBO, to its credit score, is feverishly making ready. Watchmen will likely be a continuation/reimagining of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, Demimonde is “an epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama” from super-producer J.J. Abrams, The Nevers takes place in an entirely unique fictional world from Avengers director Joss Whedon, and Lovecraft Country is a horror drama from Get Out director Jordan Peele. And after all there’s HBO’s ace within the gap: a correct prequel to Game of Thrones set hundreds of years earlier than the occasions of the principle sequence, with concepts for different spinoffs in its again pocket. You can’t accuse HBO of resting on its laurels right here; it’s laying a ton of monitor for a post-Game of Thrones future.

But will it’s sufficient? When The Sopranos ended, HBO was one of many few networks able to committing some huge cash to of venture like Game of Thrones. Now, every thing has modified. Amazon is readying exhibits primarily based on The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time. Netflix is adapting The Witcher. Disney is entering into the streaming sport with a live-action Star Wars sequence, and the record goes on. To paraphrase Varys the Spider, that is not a sport for one participant. HBO not has to fret solely about making one of the best factor on TV; it has to make one of the best finest factor, and whereas it’ll seemingly be superb within the brief run, the distant future is way much less sure.

The upside of all that is that the approaching battle to be TV’s high canine ought to be nice for viewers, because the networks all attempt to produce exhibits spectacular and compelling sufficient to draw us. Whatever occurs, we win…except tv itself collapses underneath the load of a lot cash and expectation, however that’s a subject for an additional time.

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