Winter is coming for HBO NOW subscriber growth

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Fan response to Recreation of Thrones’ ultimate season may be mixed, however the present has been undeniably good for HBO’s community — and for its over-the-top streaming service, HBO NOW. The Season eight premiere drew in 11.eight million reside viewers and 17.four million viewers across all platforms on the day of airing, as well as a record number of sign-ups to HBO NOW, which in March was reported to have 8 million subscribers. But the show’s finale airs this Sunday, and HBO is about to see an enormous exodus of streaming subscribers, as outcome.

In response to new research from Mintel released this week, HBO NOW users are twice as possible as these from some other streaming service to cancel their subscription when a selected show ends.

The only service that performed worse on this front was YouTube Premium. And that’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, provided that its subscriber base additionally consists of YouTube viewers who need to go ad-free — not simply those that are there for its unique content material.

The brand new findings are telling when it comes to how closely HBO has been counting on Recreation of Thrones to grow its streaming platform through the years. As well as, the metrics point out potential struggles ahead for HBO dad or mum firm WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. As a result of launch into beta later this yr, the service will probably be led by HBO content material. But without new episodes of Recreation of Thrones, it should depend on different in style exhibits, like Westworld, to tug in viewers.

Nevertheless, although Westworld is HBO’s second most-watched present, Game of Thrones has triple the number of viewers.  

The community is clearly aware of the unfavourable impacts to its streaming platform the top of Thrones will convey. It already greenlit plans for a Recreation of Thrones prequel, which is now filming. And it has other spin-offs in the works, too.

The prequel might not appeal to the identical fervor as the unique, nevertheless it might assist deliver viewers again. Within the meantime, nevertheless, HBO NOW is about to see a big number of subscribers cancelling after Sunday night time.

Mintel also found that HBO NOW doesn’t have any vital traction past shoppers who already subscribe to four or extra over-the-top streaming providers. These users pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, then threw HBO into the combination with a purpose to achieve access to Recreation of Thrones. They’re not essentially loyal to the community itself or thinking about its other programming. And at $14.99 per thirty days, HBO NOW is a fairly costly addition.

With new steaming providers from Apple and Disney poised to launch within the months ahead, a lot of shoppers will possible shift their HBO NOW dollars over to the newcomers as an alternative, or just pocket their financial savings.

The researchers additionally consider that smaller, lesser-known streaming providers may benefit by positioning their choices as a extra reasonably priced various to HBO NOW.

That is very true as a result of the research found that buyers’ excellent worth point for a “good” streaming package deal — one that had every part they need to watch — can be round $20 per 30 days. In the present day, that quantity affords them to purchase perhaps two or, on the most, three providers. A fourth service, like HBO NOW, has been more of a luxury expense — a must have while Recreation of Thrones aired, perhaps, but not one shoppers will really feel snug paying for when the show ends.

The brand new report stops in need of making a firm prediction on the variety of cancellations HBO NOW will soon see, though.

“I’m hesitant to put a direct quantity on subscriptions or cancellations,” says Mintel analyst analyst Buddy Lo. “We know from the analysis that almost 20 % of HBO NOW shoppers say they might cancel service over a selected program, however we didn’t definitively ask if it was specifically Recreation of Thrones that they'll cancel over,” he tells TechCrunch.

In fact, it’s exhausting to think about what other program HBO NOW subscribers would have had in thoughts when responding.

Mintel isn’t the only agency to dive into the potential impacts to HBO NOW subscriber progress ensuing from the top of its flagship collection. Last month, Second Measure pointed to historical trends that assist to forecast the large subscriber drop ahead.

For instance, HBO NOW subscribers jumped by 91% within the U.S. throughout Season 7’s airing, but steadily declined over the six months after it ended. Solely 26% of HBO NOW subscribers who made their first cost during Recreation of Thrones season 7 have been still subscribers six months later, the report stated.

It additionally found that HBO NOW subscribers have been far much less loyal than those on different streaming providers, including, so as, Netflix, Hulu and even CBS All Entry — the latter because of the Star Trek: Discovery fan base.

And neither HBO NOW nor CBS All Entry got here anyplace near the retention numbers for Netflix and Hulu, which have six-month retention figures of 74% and 60%, respectively.

Second Measure also discovered Netflix and Hulu had much more exclusivity than rivals — which means, a bigger share of subscribers who solely paid for their service and no others.

For Netflix, this figure was 78%. HBO NOW, by comparison, solely had a 27% share of subscribers who have been unique to its platform.

The agency predicts loyalty to a single service will proceed to decline in the years forward as shopper demand for streaming content grows.

The elevated competitors will make it even more durable for HBO to fare nicely by itself. That’s why it is sensible WarnerMedia is tapping into its other properties to as an alternative create an HBO-led “bundle” that feels more compelling than HBO alone.