Can other TV executives learn from Game of Thrones' finale example?
Are you a big Game of Thrones fan? The famous fantasy series that has been broadcasted on HBO for the past five years is altering how viewers can watch or re-watch the fifth season finale. But will this new marketing practice help the veteran program gain more viewers? And should other TV executives take note of this particular practice?
What exactly is Game of Thrones doing that is so different? On Sunday, June 14, the season five finale of the widely popular show will be available to watch in movie theatres. Specifically, Cineplex movie theatres will be offering fans the opportunity to view the episode in various locations throughout Canada. It’s been reported that more than 70 theatres will offer showings, with free tickets being made available on Wednesday, May 27th on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time an episode of Game of Throne’s has been viewed in movie theatres. Just last year, the season four finale was shown across Canada in 29 theatres; more than 11,000 tickets were claimed within days. And the number of tickets that are expected to be claimed this time around is only more!
Since debuting in 2011, Game of Thrones has not only become HBO’s most popular TV series (beating out The Sopranos and Sex and the City), but it has also become the most pirated show in history. And on June 14th, fans won’t only be able to see favorite characters on the big screen, but they will also get a chance to view episode 9 of the current season and previews of upcoming HBO shows that include the second season of True Detective and Ballers, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
But is this marketing tool a way to increase the show’s viewership? Or is it simply a way to show fan appreciation? Unfortunately, the answer is still unknown. While, this definitely could be an attempt from HBO to get more people to watch Game of Thrones and future television programs, it’s also plausible that this event is just for the fans.
But in the chance that this technique does increase viewership or at least spark interest in future programs, should other TV executives take notice and perhaps follow the example?
Sunnyside, Between and Game On are just a handful of Canadian TV shows that are currently airing. Could offering viewings of these shows in theatres create more buzz and more households to watch the shows in their living rooms?
Maybe Canadian TV executives should take the same approach, except flip it around. In order for a show to do well, it needs to be talked about—specifically, there needs to be a certain amount of anticipation created regarding the premiere. Therefore, executives should consider broadcasting the first episode of new shows in theatres. Creating an event around a show that hasn’t yet started could potentially establish a larger and more faithful viewership.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”