HBO’s mobile apps to gain a million new downloads courtesy of ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere
In addition to exciting its loyal legion of fans, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” premiere was also once again great news for installs of the network’s app for cord cutters, HBO NOW, which shot to the top of the App Store this weekend. The app this weekend saw a combined 300,000-plus new mobile subscribers in the U.S. across both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to preliminary estimates from Sensor Tower.
This is the highest the app has ranked on the U.S. iPhone App Store in three years, Sensor Tower notes, with its previous highest ranking on April 24, 2016 for the Season 6 “Game of Thrones” premiere. At that time, the app had seen 160,000 downloads on just the one day.
Sensor Tower soon expects to have more precise estimates of the premiere’s impact, as it wants to incorporate numbers from the fans who are getting a late start and downloading the app today.
Currently, the app is holding its No. 1 position on Apple’s App Store. If that continues, it could easily add another couple hundred thousand over the course of today (Monday, April 15, 2019), Sensor Tower estimates. That could see the app surpassing 500,000 new downloads across the three-day period.
To be clear, these numbers refer to users who have never before installed the app on their phone — not re-downloads.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily a 1:1 correlation with new HBO NOW subscribers. Many fans watch the series on their TV’s big screen through an HBO app for devices like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and others. Or they may tune in to watch on the web, via their laptop. Still, it’s a notable number — especially considering how late it is in the series for the show to be gaining new fans.
HBO’s app for cable and satellite TV customers, HBO Go, also did well this weekend. It’s on track to exceed 400,000 installs over the same three-day period (the weekend of the Season 8 premiere, plus Monday). This is highest the app has ranked since the Season 7 premiere in July 2017, when it added 350,000 first-time users across both stores worldwide.
Combined, the two apps — HBO Go and HBO NOW — are poised to exceed more than 1 million new installs in this three-day period, Sensor Tower forecasts.
However, fans’ interest in the long-awaited new season may have caused HBO’s apps to struggle some.
There have been reports from Down Detector and Business Insider of users who had issues streaming from the HBO apps, as well as Hulu. But these were nowhere on the scale of crashes we’ve seen in years past — as with the Season 4 “Game of Thrones” premiere, which had HBO issuing a public apology due to the size of the outage. (HBO says it did not have issues with HBO NOW or HBO Go. So the small number of issues could be chalked up to users’ broadband connections, or other factors.)
Other TV apps had a few glitches, too, thanks to the premiere. For example, the TV-tracking social app TV Time temporarily struggled to load, shortly after the premiere’s airing last night. On its app, “Game of Thrones” is one of the most-tracked shows, where it has 4.3 million followers who post comments, photos, memes and more to the show’s in-app community. Today, there are some 6,200 comments in the show’s forum from fans discussing the show.
HBO announced today the Season 8 premiere was watched by a record 17.4 million viewers across all platforms, including linear TV, HBO Go, and HBO NOW. Its prior record was 16.9 million viewers for the Season 7 finale. The Season 8 premiere also had over a million more viewers than the Season 7 premiere, the network said.
4/15/19, 3:07 PM ET: Updated with HBO comment after publication.