One of the most popular shows on streaming platforms and premium cable is making its premiere episode available for free. Is this a genius marketing move?
What Happened: The new “Game of Thrones” prequel show has premiered, with the first three episodes available on HBO and HBO Max.
“House of the Dragon” saw its premiere episode watched by nearly 10 million people.
Now in a move that could be pure marketing or to amplify a rivalry with another streaming company, HBO parent Warner Bros. Discovery WBD is making the first episode available for free.
Viewers without HBO or HBO Max can watch the first episode for free on YouTube, a video platform owned by Alphabet Inc GOOGGOOGL. The free offering by HBO was launched around the time that “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” was released by Amazon.com Inc AMZN streaming platform Amazon Prime Video.
A rivalry between “House of the Dragon” and the new Lord of the Rings show has been brewing, with both shows adapted from previous material with huge built-in fan bases.
Why It’s Important: HBO is occasionally offered as a free trial to subscribers of various cable packages. This move to include the first episode for free on YouTube could end up providing a boost to HBO and HBO Max subscriptions.
The offering attempts to showcase the new show and could convince people who loved “Game of Thrones” or are still upset about the series finale to subscribe to watch the first season of the show based on the same source material. “House of the Dragon” is set 200 year prior to “Game of Thrones” and features some of the same families from the original series.
YouTube shows nearly 210,000 views of the first episode of “House of the Dragon,” which comes from the HBO Max account that has 1.5 million subscribers.
The premiere of “House of the Dragon” saw the largest audience ever for a new HBO series, and also marked the largest viewership for an HBO show since February. Viewership of old “Game of Thrones” episodes was also up, with high interest in the show.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” was watched by 25 million people in its first day of availability, besting rival HBO.
Warner Bros. Discovery reported 92.1 million global DTC subscribers in the second quarter.
Giving away a product for free is often seen as a tactic that can get people to buy additional products or encourage subscriptions. In the case of HBO, the company is hoping a one episode for free offering is enough to get people to subscribe to watch the full 10 episode first season of “House of the Dragon.”
WBD Price Action: Warner Bros. Discovery shares are down 3% to $12.62 on Tuesday.
Photo: Courtesy of pressroom.warnermedia.com
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