The premiere season of HBO’s Westworld proved to be the biggest series launch in the network’s history, beating even the freshman run of current-flagship Game of Thrones, and it should come as no surprise in this day and age that a portion of the show’s faithful watchers chose the network’s standalone streaming service, HBO Now, to consume that first season.
According to a recent Polygon article, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes revealed during an investors’ call that HBO Now has officially crossed the two million domestic subscribers mark, and he attributes a great deal of this to the successful launch of Westworld. This increase equates to an 150% expansion in the subscription base compared to about a year ago, when the standalone service hovered at around 800,000 subscribers (as of late 2015). It’s difficult to know the exact weight that Westworld pulled as it relates to this spike in subscriptions, but I’d like to think that it led the way among other freshman series that premiered in the last year, like comedies Insecure and Vice Principals and the short-lived drama Vinyl.
This news also comes at a time when cord-cutting has become increasingly popular among television viewers. Streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon have paved the way for linear network streaming services like HBO Now to take the television landscape by storm, and the increasingly a la carte appetite of consumers is only fueling the fire that has already been burning bright. For this reason, I applaud HBO for recognizing the shifting landscape and implementing a successful consumption alternative to meet the demands of its viewership. Without it, one can only wonder if Westworld could have attained the record-breaking viewership numbers it enjoyed.
Back on the linear side of the network, Time Warner CFO Howard Averill noted that HBO enjoyed a six percent increase in its revenues with the help of the new Wild West show. This brings the network’s earnings to a comfortable $1.5 billion, with that number only expected to grow as HBO Now’s subscriber base continues to expand. And with the increase in revenue, we can only hope that HBO will make the decision to invest even more in future seasons of Westworld, especially once the show assumes the likely position of flagship series on the network when the beloved Game of Thrones bows out in 2018.
What do you think of HBO Now and the increase in subscribers it experienced over the past year? Do you think future seasons of Westworld will have a similar effect on the streaming service’s numbers, especially as more people make the choice to cut the cord? Let us know in the comments below!