The sky, apparently, isn’t falling at HBO after GoT

quality content

Good (early) news for HBO on the death of its super-series Game of Thrones. A new survey says most GoT fans won’t abandon HBO after all. That despite many, many pundits who foretold ruin and famine following the final episode of the service’s top-performing series. Obviously, it’s what quality content a provider delivers, not just that they deliver content that matters most to consumers.

The study, from app analytics house Sensor Tower, found that an anticipated churn of new HBO Now subs who joined just before the season began didn’t happen after the series’ end. At least not during the first billing cycle that followed. Sensor Tower told Variety that HBO lost just 16% of revenues from those subs, about $300,000.

But, reading a little deeper into those numbers does raise a red flag. The 16% churn was twice as high as the 8% churn the app saw at the end of Season 7. And, the numbers are only a piece of the HBO service, anyway. Those churn rates reflect app store data in respect to HBO Now subs who pay through Apple or Google only. Both Roku and Amazon also have the app available.

But, could the first billing cycle be just be the tip of the iceberg? Are fans hanging around on the very small hope that HBO will be following up with specials and tributes to the series or, better yet, a two-part mini-series to wrap up all the loose ends they’ve complained about? I mean, is Cerci really dead?

Maybe we’ll find out, but I doubt it.

Consumers crave quality content

There is a moral to this story, and it has to do with the loyalty consumers feel toward brands – especially subscription video services – that routinely supply them with a good, quality content. Quality content, a good user interface that delivers a premium user experience, and a perception of value delivered. Concept, right? That’s what helps a service, studio, channel, operator, whatever survive the end of a top series – even a mega-series like GoT.

The trauma brought on by the end of a Game of Thrones is a lot easier to get through when you have another piece of quality content waiting in the wings. Even a short series like Chernobyl.

Netflix has seen any number of supposed apocalyptic events beginning with Starz pulling its content back from the service years ago (where’d it go? Who cared?), the end of House of Cards, and, most recently NBCUniversal’s announcement that it would be pulling The Office from the service in 2021.

The result? Rampant predictions that the end was nigh!

Content churn itself is a fact of life for any distributor who has a hit show. CBS just ran out of string on the Big Bang Theory and how many are predicting the end for the Eye network?

Zip. Zero. Nada. Not a one.

The bottom line

Companies that routinely produce and deliver great content tend to do so on a fairly regular basis. It becomes part of their DNA.

And that is what consumers want.

Consumers turned to over-the-top video as a relief from the tired offerings of enormous bundles of content they didn’t want, and from pay-TV operators who saw them as ATM machines, not valuable customers. When they discovered a source of great content that saw value in them as a customer, too, well, that was gravy. That’s one big reason it’s obvious we haven’t come close to SVOD saturation. And, streamers routinely outperform pay-TV operators in customer satisfaction surveys.

I mean, this isn’t exactly a cliff hanger here, you know? Will HBO survive Game of Thrones? Can Netflix find a substitute for House of Cards? Will CBS fall with the Big Bang.


Obviously, it’s what quality content a provider delivers, not just that they deliver content that matters most to consumers.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn