HBO has been making some smart moves when it comes to their hit series Game of Thrones. They wrapped the fourth season of Game of Thrones (GoT) this weekend and now it is time for those who watch the popular series to wait for season five. In the meantime, perhaps watchers of the show, who for whatever reason refuse to read the books, would like to enjoy some fan created videos on YouTube; HBO will not mind.
In fact, HBO is quite comfortable with their copyrighted content being used and re-used for entertainment purposes. So much so, that by a staggering ratio of 82 to 1, videos created by fans far outnumber the content on the cabler’s GoT YouTube channel. According to information compiled by Zefr, a video software vendor on the internet, those same fan videos are responsible for 89 percent of all GoT views.
HBO’s GoT channel so far has garnered over 172 million views. While that is an impressive number, Zefr reports that all the GoT videos made by YouTube users combined have seen approximately 1.4 billion views. A compilation video of the horrified reactions of viewers during the Red Wedding in season three has been viewed over 10.7 million times. In fact, there are over 1,700 GoT videos that are Red Wedding-inspired. All of those combined have had 40 million views.
The audience analyst at Zefr, Erik Weber, said that as soon as a new episode is over, the legions of fans start making new content reflecting that episode, thereby breathing new life into it. He said that the fans are the ones responsible for turning GoT into such a huge phenomenon.
At one time, HBO and their ilk spent a lot of time and money on policing sites such as YouTube, making demands to pull all material belonging to them, in an often vain attempt to bring consumers to their official websites. Not so much anymore. These media giants have realized that the fan-created content is splendid free promotion and have begun embracing the creativity and fun behind the videos.
According to research done by Google, the activity on YouTube that is related to television shows, which includes fan-created content, actually aids in boosting the ratings. They discovered a positive correlation between search traffic and Nielsen ratings.
A key factor that is most helpful to HBO is that viewers can remain engaged with a show by watching user-created content during hiatuses, which everyone knows is extremely long for GoT. A smart idea for the network that expects fans to wait 10 months for the next season of their beloved Game of Thrones.
In April, the cabler announced that it had partnered up with Amazon for streaming their older shows. This was an important move for HBO, primarily because of what the deal did not include. The miniseries, specials and original series that will be available will all be three years old or older. This is referred to as a “library deal.” Also, as it now stands, GoT episodes will never be available on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Due to the tremendous interest and the high possibility that the show will continue on for several seasons more, they have decided to keep that to themselves. Yet another smart decision for HBO and Game of Thrones.
Opinion By Stacy Lamy