Op Ed: Game of Thrones & Why Content Is King

It’s 2019. That means you know your brand is under the microscope of scrutiny by just about everyone with an internet connection. HBO's Game of Thrones and the controversy surrounding its final season knows this all too well.  You’ve got to resonate with the right people, but not only that, you’ve got to get them to commit. However, that’s pretty difficult considering it only takes users about 50 milliseconds to make a judgment about your site. That’s right—less than a second determines whether or not they love or hate your brand, whether they’ll stay or leave.   

Viewers Throne out the Window

Recently, HBO aired the very last season of the popular, eight-season series, Game of Thrones with unbelievable numbers: 11.8 million live viewers, 17.4 million viewers across all airing platforms, and a number of sign-ups that crushed the original HBO Now record. And since the final episode has come and past, HBO is preparing for a viewer-loss impact.   

A recent study conducted by Mintel gave the popular Game of Thrones streaming service some bad but expected news. Their research showed that HBO Now subscribers were twice as likely to cancel their subscription after a certain show ended compared to all other streaming services. In the wake of this subscriber exodus, it is clear that HBO had been putting all their eggs into a very Game of Thrones-ish basket over the last ten years. In fact, they’re already filming a prequel to the wildly-popular series as we speak.   

To make matters worse, HBO Now is the most expensive streaming service, clocking in at $14.99 per month, compared to other popular services like Netflix and Hulu. The research also suggested that users would spend a maximum $20 per month on a “perfect” service that offered them all the content they wanted to watch. Without Game of Thrones, it seems that HBO Now is not that perfect service.   

Learning a Lesson

HBO is a great example of a brand who gave their viewers the content they wanted, but when it came to a close, so did the audience’s excitement for the brand. We can learn from HBO that it’s important to keep your content well-rounded to set up proper user expectations. Without that balance, they’ll leave as soon as they got what they came for.   

The bottom line is, relevant content keeps audiences engaged. Take AMC’s Breaking Bad for example. After Breaking Bad ended, AMC anticipated the turmoil its patrons would face after the end of the wildly popular show, so they decided to film a prequel to Breaking Bad called Better Caul Saul. Luckily, it was and still is a massive success. That being said, if HBO does it right, they could be set up for success with their planned prequel. Though it’s not been said if HBO plans on putting the prequel on their streaming service, it would be a wrong move for them not to. The name of the game is “give the people what they want,” and apparently, they want more Game of Thrones.  

Transcending TV 

This idea of providing the right content to retain viewership goes further than television shows and streaming services. In terms of SFW, we work hard to provide content to our various client audiences that will keep them coming back for more.  

Last year, we decided to produce a video series for our client, CHANNELLOCK®, called The Place, The Plant, The People, a three-part series that went behind the scenes of CHANNELLOCK®’s all-American hometown, Meadville, PA, their factory and leadership, and the Meadville citizens who have supported the business since its beginning. Thanks to that series, our research showed that 59% DIYers and Pros now knew that CHANNELLOCK® tools were made in the USA, compared to the previous 39%. And, their website saw a 121% increase in users and a 35% increase in page views, making the series a giant success for the brand.   

SFW heard that loud in clear. With insights to prove that the CHANNELLOCK® audience resonated heavily with video series’, we set our sights on producing a brand-new, five-part series called It’s Personal. For this, we visited various tradesmen across America to see how CHANNELLOCK® tools help them in their professional and personal lives.  

With that being said, it’s more important now than ever to know your audience and to identify what’s keeping them coming back. When you do that, you’ll have a roadmap to your brand awareness success. And hopefully, HBO follows their roadmap carefully.