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Game of Thrones fever drives Time Warner growth

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

The stunning viewing figures for Game of Thrones have pushed Time Warner and its subsidiary, HBO, to significant subscription growth.

Premium cable network HBO saw its subscription revenues rise 13% year-on-year, its highest quarterly growth in 13 years.

Revenues for the three months to September 30 at HBO were US$1.6 billion (€1.4 billion), up on the US$1.43 billion posted last year. Operating income was US$552 million, up from US$530 million in 2016.

The result comes after season seven of Game of Thrones ended with consolidated averaged audiences per episode of well over 30 million, making it HBO’s biggest ever series by far.

The show has been credited with driving pay TV and SVOD subscriptions on various platforms around the world, and the Time Warner figures further cement its status as the most significant show currently on the international market.

“The seventh season of Game of Thrones concluded during the quarter with an average of 33 million viewers, a record for an HBO original series,” said Jeff Bewkes, CEO and chairman of Time Warner.

“Our results and these highlights reflect our continued focus on executing our strategy, which includes both creating the most engaging content and advancing the ways that consumers can enjoy and experience our content and brands across platforms.”

Time Warner’s networks arm, Turner, also posted double-digit growth, as president of TNT and TBS and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment Kevin Reilly’s strategy begins to pay off.

Revenues were US$2.77 billion compared with US$2.61 billion the previous year, with operating income of US$1.24 billion beating 2016’s US$1.16 billion.

Studio arm Warner Bros. saw revenues narrowly rise from US$3.4 billion to US$3.46 billion, but operating income was up US$110 million at US$538 million.

Overall, Time Warner posted a 6% increase in revenues of US$7.6 billion and operating income of US$2.25 billion.

Bewkes said AT&T’s proposed US$85 billion takeover of Time Warner “remains on track to close before year-end”.

In AT&T’s third quarter earnings release, company chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said: “We look forward to closing our acquisition of Time Warner and bringing together premium content with world-class distribution to deliver a better entertainment experience for consumers and more effective targeted advertising.”

The deal has been controversial, with various lobbying groups and President Donald Trump openly opposing the merger, but it has received all necessary regulatory and shareholder approvals so far.