29 July, 2013

'Game of Thrones' Home Video Sales Plummet in Season 2


I am a big fan of GAME OF THRONES, and an even greater fan of the books on which the show is based, the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin. So I was very excited last year when home video sales catapulted the show to #1 in DVD sales for 2012.

I was also excited when season 2 was released on DVD/BD and read this article (based on an HBO press release) that touted the success of season 2 home video sales.

Here is the problem, following that “day one” phenomenon, sales kind of took a dip. A kind of huge dip. Even when factoring in the Blu-Ray sales, which likely increased year-to-year, the overall home video sales for season 2 are much lower.

Let’s look at where the sales for the season 1 DVD box set was last year around this time:

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season – 949,240 units sold for $32,450,566 in revenue.

Now look at what sales are right now for season 2:

Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 534,471 units sold for $16,493,733 in revenue

It is still doing well, coming in as the #2 television show in home video sales for 2013 (after “The Bible”). However, it is a stark change from the previous year.

So what happened? Especially considering that TV viewership increased (the show has a per episode total viewership of nearly 14 million). Well, without having HBO’s internal data, I'll conjecture that many of the people who bought season 1 went on to watch season 2 (and 3) and skipped out on buying the show now that they have HBO and can watch it anytime they want via its various viewing options (HBOGO and On Demand etc).

If this is the case, then HBO is fine with people not buying the box set since the revenue from subscriptions more than make up for any loss in home video sales, especially if the subscriber holds on to their HBO service for the whole year.

Or, all those illegal downloads really are hurting HBO’s bottom line.

What say you?

Note: I tried to contact HBO about these numbers but never received any kind of response (even though I attempted several times).

UPDATE: since someone brought up Blu-Ray sales making up for some of the losses, here is my response from below (which you can find easily but I decided to include it as part of this article since some will never look for it).

BLU-RAY Sales:

Week 1 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 336,215 units sold - $10,083,088 total revenue

Week 2 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 64,534 units sold - 365,193 total sold - $2,580,733 revenue - $11,597,496 total revenue

As you can see, after the first week, sales plummeted. By the third week, it wasn't even on the top 20 list (which means it sold less than 20,000 units that week).


UPDATE 2: here is the comparative DVD sales numbers for that period of time.

Week 1 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 241,587 units sold - $6,037,259 total revenue

Week 2 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 64,932 units sold - 306,519 total sold - $2,225,869 revenue - $8,263,128 total revenue

Week 3 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 27,725 units sold - 334,244 total sold - $831,473 revenue - $9,094,601 total revenue




11 comments:

  1. You got to love press releases. Best first day. Crap next day. lol. Thx for numbers. Had no idea. You are probably right. People bought season 1 not having seen it on HBO then got HBO.

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  2. Reason HBO didn't respond to you is because the industry relies on the short memory of the media and masses who only store PR jargon.

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  3. It’s important to keep a few things in mind. The figures posted above are in fact, DVD sales figures, which are tallied independently from Blu-Ray sales figures. This is important because the second season Blu-Ray release also included a DVD set for the season (as well as a digital copy), whereas the first season did not. The Blu-Ray set was also the same price as the stand-alone DVD set for the first month or so of its release (maybe longer, but I know for sure that it was the same price for at least a month), meaning that the number of units sold on the Blu-Ray front is likely a much larger percentage of the overall sales than it was for the first season.

    So don’t always believe the press releases, sure, but the numbers don’t always tell the full story, either. I highly doubt that the show has dropped Morocco from the schedule as a result of either finances or because of political tensions in the ‘region’. More likely, it wasn’t worth the added complication to an already tight and complicated schedule. They’re clearly looking to distinguish Mereen from Yunkai and Astapor visually, and there are only so many ways they can re-dress the old sets from Kingdom of Heaven to represent a different city in Essos.

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    1. I didn't include Blu-Ray in the article because those numbers are extremely difficult to find accurate numbers for beyond the first few weeks. HOWEVER, here are the numbers for the first two weeks for season 2:

      Week 1 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 336,215 units sold - $10,083,088 total revenue

      Week 2 Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season - 64,534 units sold - 365,193 total sold - $2,580,733 revenue - $11,597,496 total revenue

      As you can see, after the first week, sales plummeted. By the third week, it wasn't even on the top 20 list (which means it sold less than 20,000 units that week).

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  4. Is it possible that when HBO released their data in 2012 they combined Blue Ray and DVD sales? If they did then that accounts for the appearance of huge loss in sales. Not saying it happened but could it have?

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    1. Heh... I actually considered this during the many weeks (months) I spent looking up data. But I could never make the numbers work. I looked at their press releases last year and then several sources that reported numbers, and nothing fit. Seriously, NOTHING fit. HBO's numbers didn't match up with any site that reports this data. The only thing that seemed relatively close was the Blu-Ray vs. DVD sales percentages (still off but close enough).

      So, in 2013, the BD sales were a few percentage points higher but nothing huge. Not enough to account for the plummet in overall sales. Now, the digital sales could account for SOME of the differences but it is unlikely they make a dent in the overall picture. Digital sales for whole seasons are still being dwarfed by physical media.

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  5. I thought you loved GOT. Why you slagging on them now??

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    1. The reading comprehension level of some people is amazing.

      In any event, I started this research while writing a different article about how GAME OF THRONES is making big revenue for HBO. So I followed the numbers week-to-week and was shocked by what I saw. I then started researching the numbers from last year. I then asked HBO for clarification (a request that went ignored).

      I didn't make up these numbers. I am just reporting them.

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  6. Your research looks good. I don't how it happened but season 2 sales are down. Thanks for the leg work.

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  7. lol yay marketing!

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  8. It could be like you say, people bought season 1 and then watched season 2 and 3. But maybe people didn't like season 2. I bought the first 3 seasons of Community but won't touch season 4. Could be that se4ason 3 will sell better.

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