After a long tense wait, the latest season of HBO’s hit fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones’ (GOT) is finally here. Star India, its official broadcaster (both TV and digital) in the country, has left no stone unturned to cash in on the GOT fever that has gripped lovers of the show across the country.
For instance, the network’s English channel Star World will be is conducting a ‘Game of Predictions’ challenge on its Twitter account every Sunday during the course of the season. The winner of the contest will get an opportunity to visit the GOT set in Northern Ireland. The channel has already roped in automobile manufacturer Nexa and Chinese technology firm Lenovo as powered by sponsors and watch brand Titan Edge as partners.
The channel (where GOT will premiere on July 18) has also created videos on three main characters Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen on Facebook
tracing their journey which claims to have garnered fan appreciation on their social media pages. The one on Targaryen fetched a maximum of 473K views. On the day of launch, Star World will run an engagement activity on social media to build more buzz around the show.
Regarded as a niche product, GOT has done well for the channel with its first season premiere taking the 10pm slot from Tuesday to Friday up by 10 times last February. The premiere of the sixth season on April 24 improved the viewership of Star World and Star World HD by 2.2 times.
Divya Radhakrishnan, CEO, Helios Group, points out that it’s rare to find a media vehicle that appeals to two set of audiences consuming two different mediums and GOT does that. She says, “This is part of the few media vehicles where you get the digital and television audience together. Here the media multiplier effect is absolutely practical with the buzz it has online.”
She also suggests that from this buzz the audience profile can be well understood. “You get a profile status, a great multiplier effect which works well for high-end modern brands. It’s about appropriate brand fit.”
For the uninitiated, Star India had signed an exclusive tie-up with HBO in December 2015 to offer latter's original programming content on its video streaming service Hotstar and its English television channels from January 2016.
On the digital front, the seventh season will premiere on Hotstar on July 17 at 7.30am (same time as the US prime time). Last April the OTT platform made a clever move of introducing a paywall of Rs 199 per month for GOT’s sixth season and other select content. That has definitely worked for the OTT platform which till January 2017 commanded 63 million subscribers, according to KPMG FICCI Report 2017.
The move definitely brought in paid subscribers who continued to stay on. Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group, happens to be one of them. He confesses, “This gives you one month of entertainment for Rs 199 and lot of people like me continue thereafter. The strategy of getting arguably the most popular content in the history of television exactly at the same time as the US can acquire huge subscribers based on that. Out of that 30-40 per cent will stay back.”
He suggests that even for those who come out of paywall might stay back on Hotstar for other content which will bring in advertisers. There’s much more targeted advertising as now advertisers are more aware of who it’s reaching out to. Bhargava agrees, “GOT caters to niche users with some controlling large disposable income of the country. So from user acquisition point of view they (Hotstar) are acquiring the right kind of users.”
With Hotstar having ‘sizeable audience it can move the needle for any advertiser in India today if it focuses on the platform.’
The OTT was seen aggressively promoting the show across its social media accounts (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) through posts and video. Launched on July 14, the promotional video had a unique take on piracy by poking fun on torrents. It garnered 231k views on YouTube.