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).
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