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Game of Thrones was definitely HBO's prized pig going into 2019, although one might not know it looking at recent coverage. While GoT's final season was receiving flak for its plot lines and polarizing ending, the networks' miniseries Chernobyl was gaining ground as one of most acclaimed shows on television. The historical drama even managed to beat out Thrones in one important category of viewership.
During its five-episode run, Chernobyl netted over 52% of its total viewership from HBO Go, HBO Now, and other digital platforms. That's a new record for HBO in terms of OTT viewing, meaning Chernobyl has dethroned Game of Thrones as the prior record-holder for dedicated viewership via HBO's online streaming services.
The previous record stood at 46% digital viewership vs. linear TV, and that record was only recently set during Game of Thrones Season 8. Chernobyl's 52% surpassed that number by a healthy margin, marking the first time in the network's history that a series' primary source of viewership came from streaming services.
Typically, news about a show doing really well on OTT isn't always the best sign for a broadcast or cable entity. Shows airing on linear television are aiming to get audiences to watch the ads during episodes, so many networks might risk ad revenue problems if a majority of viewers are flocking to binge shows on platform where they can't advertise. However, this is actually solid news for the subscription-funded HBO, and it shows how much accessibility can factor into a show like Chernobyl's viewership.
For HBO head Casey Bloys, the streaming numbers indicate that audiences will seek out a quality series in any capacity. Bloys expressed pride over the fact that Chernobyl excelled and became a big talking point in pop culture, to the point that subscribers went to find it on their respective platforms.
It probably still isn't enough for HBO to pursue "spinoffs," so to speak, that highlight other controversial disasters in world history. However, the huge digital turnout for Chernobyl could indeed be positive reinforcement for the network to seek out even more poignant and reality-based miniseries.
There have been rumors about HBO possibly hitting a rough patch, timed with Game of Thrones ending its historic run. On that front, it's gotta be good for HBO to see that audiences have been steadily looking for Chernobyl on digital platforms on top of linear set-ups.
A limited series will only keep someone on the line for so long, of course, but with HBO constantly pushing out new content and keeping a library of its acclaimed originals on deck, that might be all it takes to pull people back into the subscription cycle. Especially now that the network is looking into branching out more beyond just Sunday nights. Who would've thought such great things would come for HBO in a series centered on such a horrible tragedy?
Chernobyl has concluded, but as stated numerous times above, the show can currently be binged on HBO Go, HBO Now, other OTT services, On Demand, and via HBO's regular scheduling. Interested parties can check out the show of the summer any of those ways, and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for the latest news movies and television.