Are you canceling your HBO subscription? Experts predict exodus as Game of Thrones ends

Samantha Cossick
SC
Samantha Cossick
May 21, 2019
  • The final season of Game of Thrones set record subscriber and viewer numbers for HBO
  • HBO now faces the potential of major subscriber losses, a new study reveals
  • The entertainment giant is betting on GoT prequel to keep subscribers

Winter finally came, and with it, the end of HBO’s epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones. The eighth and final season wasn’t just the most watched season and episode — a record 13.6 million people watched the series finale live on Sunday — for GoT, but for HBO in general.

And while we may know the fate of the Iron Throne (don’t worry — no spoilers here), what’s unclear now is the fate of HBO’s subscriber base.

In 2010, HBO had about 81 million subscribers worldwide. Game of Thrones premiered in April 2011 pushing their global subscriber base to 93 million by the end of the year.

Since, then, the entertainment platform has added an additional 49 million subscriptions bringing their total to 142 million around the world in 2017, according to Statista. Of that number, 8 million are subscribed to the brand’s streaming service, HBO Now.

According to research released last week by global market research firm, Mintel, HBO can expect to lose a number of HBO Now subscribers.

Their research reveals that out of all over-the-top (OTT) streamers, HBO Now subscribers are “nearly twice as likely as all streamers to agree they would cancel a service if a specific show/program was canceled or ended.”

HBO is clearly betting that subscribers won’t jump ship by announcing a GoT prequel that’s currently being filmed.

AT&T CFO John Stephens said earlier this year that GoT’s first episode this year “led to the most subscriber adds in HBO NOW history.”

The exact number of new subscribers won’t be revealed until WarnerMedia’s Q2 2019 report, which may now also reflect subscriptions lost since many people may have signed up for their free 7-day trial and canceled.

(To quickly recap, AT&T purchased Time Warner Inc. last year, bringing Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Broadcasting under a new parent company now known as WarnerMedia.)

Another threat to HBO’s subscription base is the sheer number of streaming options consumers now have to choose from.

In addition to original streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as newer participants Amazon Prime, DIRECTV NOW, CBS All Access, Fubo and Sling, consumers will also get to choose from Disney+, Apple TV+, and NBC’s upcoming streaming service in the coming months. Even WarnerMedia is planning to launch their own streaming service fronted by HBO.

So, now the question for consumers is: How many streaming services are too many, and is HBO worth keeping now that Game of Thrones is over?

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