Game of Screens

M. G. Siegler, writing in his newsletter First Draught, presented an interesting idea on how HBO left millions, potentially billions, on the table with the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones.

Anyway, the first episode was great. I’m sure the other five will be as well. So it’s just a what if”… But there’s an even more obvious, if tangential thought experiment here, one that has been percolating for months: what if HBO had just opted to open this latest season of Game of Thrones – the TV show, as is – in movie theaters?

Imagine if they ran the first episode in theaters only for the first week. Or even just opened it on a Thursday before the Sunday premiere on HBO itself. I know I would absolutely go to see it on the big screen. As would undoubtedly millions of others. Given the near feature-length of the episodes, I would even pay full price for a regular” movie ticket. But even if HBO only” charged $5-$10/ticket, how much money would they make? Tens of millions for sure. Hundreds of millions? Perhaps!

Just imagine if HBO had opted to open each of the six episodes of seasons 8 in this regard. Perhaps even promoted viewing parties for such events? We’re definitely talking hundreds of millions of dollars at that point. Then the question becomes: are we talking billions? Maybe not. Still, that is a lot of money for HBO to leave on the table, all for not doing much beyond some additional marketing.

It is an interesting thought experiment I’m not sure they would have made billions, but I can’t think of another piece of television” that could work better.

April 16, 2019


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