Monday, July 7, 2014

The War of 18-49, Game of Thrones


Scheduling history: All seasons of Game of Thrones have aired on Sunday at 9:00.

See (who saw) how it all began: Game of Thrones hit the airwaves to incredible hype among fans of the George R.R. Martin book series on which it is based, but that fanbase wasn't large enough to make GoT a smash out of the gate. It opened on 4/17/11 to a decent but unspectacular 2.222 million viewers and 0.9 demo rating. The 0.9 remains tied as the series low demo rating, while the viewership low came the next week (2.202 million). But it ticked up to a 1.0 in the demo that week, then to a 1.1 in week three, then to a 1.2 in week five. It stayed on that 1.2 for most of the rest of season one, but it ended with a series high 1.4 for the season one finale: a suggestion that bigger things were ahead.

The best of times: As with many modern cable dramas, Game of Thrones' biggest percent viewership leap came between seasons one and two. It obliterated the previous high with a 2.0 demo to open season two on 4/1/12, then spent most of season two in the upper 1's before closing on another new high 2.2. It then hit new series highs another six times in season three, culminating with a 2.89 rating for the finale. Then it blew away the series high again with a whooping 3.6 to open season four, and it had three more new series high moments later in the season. It had yet another new series high 4.19 to open season five on 4/12/15, and nearly topped it again for the season five finale (4.14).

The worst of times: Game of Thrones may never again return to its 1.0ish depths from season one. Its only times below that threshold were the aforementioned 0.9 series premiere on 4/17/11 and another 0.9 on Memorial Day later in the season (5/29/11).

Then vs. now: When True Blood took a dip in season six, it became clear that Game of Thrones was the new signature HBO drama. But so pronounced was GoT's growth in season four that it didn't just surpass True Blood of the present; it became far bigger than True Blood ever was. As with all high-rated dramas on pay cable, the inevitable question arises about how much bigger it would be on a basic cable network with three times as much household coverage.You can't just say there'd automatically be three times as much audience; the show probably skews heavily toward the HBO subscriber base anyway, and surely there are many who subscribe specifically for Game of Thrones. But there are undoubtedly a lot of people disenfranchised as well, as seen in the show's ridiculous piracy numbers. Ultimately, the issue is kinda trivial, because the Game of Thrones ranking position is pretty clear; it's miles behind top drama The Walking Dead and new 2014-15 breakout Empire, but well ahead of everything else. It's probably a stretch to say basic cable would have enough impact to change that story.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2011Sunday 9:001.120.901.40detail
2Spring 20121.91+71%1.602.20detail
3Spring 20132.61+37%2.302.90detail
4Spring 20143.68+41%3.403.90detail
5Spring 20153.52-4%2.534.19detailA-
6Spring 20163.85+9%3.254.35detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 20114435553555
2Spring 20128168938593
3Spring 2013124109138114138
4Spring 2014195180207191202
5Spring 2015209150249249246
6Spring 2016264223299273299


The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.


Spot said...

That second 0.9 in S1 isn't really "random". 5/29/11 was Memorial Day Sunday.

Spot said...

Does this mean we will be seeing more War post this week?

Spot said...


Spot said...

Yes, it's back for the next six weeks.

Spot said...

Trend says that GOT would be a network TV megahit by 2015 since I can't see it dropping above the league-average (whatever it is).

Kind of impressive because this and Walking Dead seem like cable outliers is a moment where we've seen cable shows taking 20+% drops from year to year.

Spot said...


Spot said...

They both skew extremely young and grew fast. That's a great recipe for random implosion of ratings, but I think GOT has at least another year before a big downturn

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