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Why is HBO making shows from podcasts?

Why is HBO making shows from podcasts?
From Engadget - February 10, 2018

Podcasts jumping into bed with HBO may seem like a strange fit, especially given the network's love for well-heeled prestige drama. But it's likely a shrewd move, given the current broadcasting landscape and HBO's own need to find new audiences. This year sees the channel coming to the end a period of dominance where it can lay claim to owning Game of Thrones, the world's most hyped TV show.

When Game of Thrones began, its same-day ratings -- views within the first 24 hours of broadcast -- were 2.5 million. By ordinary cable standards, that's a success, and Westworld's first-season finale earned 2.2 million views during its live broadcast alone. But those figures look lackluster compared with Thrones' sixth season, which earned 7.7 million views in that same 24-hour window.

HBO, unlike other broadcasters, needs its subscribers to keep coming back to its platform in order to make money. It does not need to pull in Super Bowlsize audiences for all of its shows, so long as they comfortably claim around two million viewers and keep everyone paying.

That is where podcasts come in.

Since their creation, podcasts have been something of a black box, with creators (and advertisers) knowing only how many people downloaded each episode. Beyond that, nobody really knew if users were listening all the way through a show, if they listened to the ads or whether all the effort was for naught.

In December 2017, Apple launched a podcast analytics service, allowing producers to really analyze its listenership data for the first time. The title of Wired's report on the subject sums up the findings pretty neatly: "Podcast Listeners Really Are the Holy Grail Advertisers Hoped They Would Be."

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