Once known as the home of “Game of Thrones,” HBO and HBO Max might soon be referenced more for another hit show.
Here’s a look at the early ratings and success for one of the newest video game adaptations that could provide a boost to HBO and HBO Max.
What Happened: Media and streaming company Warner Bros Discovery Inc (NASDAQ:WBD) saw strong ratings for “House of the Dragon,” its spinoff prequel for the massively successful “Game of Thrones” series that came to an end in 2019.
HBO’s next big hit might very well be “The Last of Us,” an adaptation of a video game from Sony Group Corp (NYSE:SONY).
After posting strong viewership for its premiere episode of 4.7 million viewers, the second episode had 5.7 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max, according to data from Nielsen and Warner Bros. Discovery, as reported by Variety.
This marked a 22% increase from the first episode, which also indicated the “largest week 2 audience growth for an HBO Original drama series in the history of the network.”
The company reported viewership of the premiere episode was more than 10 million when counting the premiere date and two days of availability. This put the premiere episode ahead of the premiere of “House of the Dragon.”
“After one full week of availability, Episode 1 is now tracking at 18 million viewers, up nearly 4x from its premiere night audience,” the company said.
“The Last of Us” may have benefitted from a built-in fan base thanks to the hit video game, something Benzinga predicted recently.
Why It’s Important: The success of “House of the Dragon” and “The Last of Us” gave HBO and HBO Max two new hit shows that follow up recent hits “Game of Thrones” and “Euphoria.”
HBO turned in many hits over the year, which could make the records being set by “The Last of Us’ all that more impressive.
In the highly competitive streaming market, having highly coveted and in-demand series such as “House of the Dragon,” “The Last of Us” and “Euphoria” could help HBO Max stay relevant and keep churn low.
Having the shows spread out across different quarters and seasons could also help lower churn.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced recently it was raising the price of HBO Max from $14.99 to $15.99 for many subscribers. The timing of the success of “The Last of Us” shouldn’t be lost on the price increase and how it could be more justifiable by the company with more hits and strong content.
Shareholders of Warner Bros. Discovery should keep watching the viewership figures for “The Last of Us.” The company could have strong subscriber figures when it next reports quarterly earnings or share how “The Last of Us” is helping drive subs and lower churn.
The early success of “The Last of Us” comes as shares of Warner Bros. Discovery are down over 50% in the past year.
“If ‘The Last of Us’ can generate continued buzz and get millions of viewers for its premiere episode, look for HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery to get more attention as a streaming leader,” Benzinga recently wrote.
WBD Price Action: Warner Bros. Discovery shares are up more than 40% year-to-date to start the 2023 year. Shares have traded between $8.82 and $31.12 over the last 52 weeks. Shares closed Tuesday down 0.96% at $13.38.
Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Discovery