Game of Thrones boosts HBO Nordics subs

Leading up to the third quarter of this year, 200,000 Swedish households say they intend to sign up for an HBO Nordic subscription. The record high interest coincided with the premiere of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. This season is the most popular yet with an average of roughly 31 million viewers per episode in the US.

Half-year figures show that 1.5 million Swedish households have at least one SVoD subscription. The second quarter brought an increase in subscriptions equal to seven per cent compared to the same period last year. The growth is lower than previous quarters and could be an early sign that the market is beginning to reach saturation.

Based on consumers’ purchase plans, however, Mediavision predicts that the market will see a new push during the third quarter. The seventh season of Game of Thrones on HBO Nordic is a strong reason why. Approaching the third quarter of 2017 – i.e. the premiere of season seven of Game of Thrones – a record breaking number of nearly 200,000 households had plans to purchase an HBO Nordic subscription. Compared to last year, this is an increase of about fifty per cent. It is also the first time HBO ranks higher than market leader Netflix as the most preferred SVoD service.

Still, looking at the number of currently active subscriptions, Netflix has a clear lead. Netflix recorded the largest growth of all SVoD services on the Swedish market in absolute numbers during the second quarter. HBO, on the other hand, saw a decline in subscriber numbers compared to the second quarter of last year. Mediavision’s analysis suggests that the postponed release of the latest season of Game of Thrones this year is a likely explanation.

The seventh season, which just finished, was released in the middle of July while the previous season aired between April and June in 2016. In the US, this year’s season has had record breaking viewing numbers with an average of about 31 million viewers per episode. Compared to last year’s record breaking season, this year’s season has upped its viewing numbers by 34 percent.

The series draws a lot of attention in Sweden as well. Apart from a temporary decline in subscribers for HBO Nordic, airing the season later this year than last year has likely had a negative effect on the subscriber growth of the entire Swedish SVOD market. In other words, the market slowing down during the second quarter might not prove to be a lasting trend.

“The fact that Game of Thrones is HBO Nordic’s trump card in the battle for subscribers on the new TV market is undeniable. On the other hand, being so highly dependent on one show comes at a price. Compared to Netflix, whose steady growth each quarter is driven by a large quantity of high quality releases that appeal to a large variety of viewers. Netflix’ strength lies in its diversity. Long lasting success demands the viewers’ attention all the time, not just for a single show”, commented Marie Nilsson, CEO of Mediavision.

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