A new report reveals that HBO's key audience dropped by more than half following the end of its hit fantasy series Game of Thrones.
A new report reveals that HBO's key audience dropped by more than half following the end of its hit fantasy series Game of Thrones. The show, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, was a genuine pop culture phenomenon, crossing over demographics and becoming a cultural touchstone for the eight seasons it was on air. It starred an ensemble cast of British actors and dominated ratings while it was on, despite disappointing fans with its lackluster and, some say, terrible season 8.
As a result of Game of Thrones' popularity, HBO became one of the most-watched cable networks in the USA, and dominated awards seasons for a number of years. However, following the show's end, the network has struggled to produce a show with the same crossover appeal. Shows like the critically acclaimed Watchmen were produced to help fill the gap left by Game of Thrones, but failed to capture anywhere near the same ratings. But a new report listing the ratings for 2020 reveals just how much smaller the network's audience got following its conclusion.
Variety has revealed its list of most-watched TV networks for 2020, revealing that HBO suffered last year, shedding far more viewers than previously suspected. The report states that among the 18-49 audience, HBO's key demographic and the audience who tuned in to watch Game of Thrones in their millions, dropped by more than half. Overall, the network didn't fare much better, losing 38% of its audience in 2020 compared to 2019. The massive drop in viewers is attributed to Game of Thrones, which broadcast its eighth and final season in 2019, ending.
The drop in viewing figures reveals just how important Game of Thrones was for HBO, bringing in audiences who otherwise wouldn't tune in to the network's other premium series. It also reveals why the network rushed to create a number of shows to fill the gap its conclusion left. None of those shows have proven to be as popular, though, and even House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel show currently in development at the network, is unlikely to get HBO the same viewing figures.
The ratings drop can also perhaps be revealed as the reason why Warner Media, the company which owns HBO, is so focused on its new streaming service HBO Max, releasing all of its major 2021 blockbuster movies to the service on the same day as they drop in theaters. They're clearly hoping the prospect of seeing big budget releases on the day of release will get them subscribers and increase viewing numbers, making up for the shortfall of cable viewers. Hopefully the gamble pays off for the studio, as it's unlikely to ever have a TV hit of the size of Game of Thrones in the near future.