Season 3 of Game of Thrones kicked off on this past Sunday, March 31st, on HBO, after much anticipation from fans. HBO reported 4.4 million viewers tuned in for the premiere, and another one million pirated the episode within 24 hours–not surprising considering it was the most illegally downloaded television show in 2012. How much attention is the new season getting online?
What websites did people visit from searching “Game of Thrones” online? Compete PRO shows HBO.com was the top destination, as I expected. Looking further down the list of top 10 destinations, its interesting that Bing, Facebook and Amazon bid on some combination keywords with the show’s title. Amazon, who received the most paid search referrals, is likely advertising the season DVDs and the original book series. I suspect HBO is has a paid search campaign tied to the Game of Thrones Facebook page which has over 5.5 million likes (up from just 2.8 million a year ago). The page was updated multiple times a day leading up to the new season.
Looking at HBO.com’s Daily Reach and Daily Attention over the past three months, its clear how important Game of Thrones is to HBO. The site’s traffic remained nearly flat until the day of the season premiere when both metrics spiked tremendously. Daily Reach, the measure of how many people visited the website as a percentage of all U.S. Internet users online, grew from .04% to .21% in just one day. Daily Attention, what percentage of the time we collectively spend online was spent on a given site, followed similar trend showing visitors to HBO.com were more engaged on the site than usual. The smaller spike in both metrics on February 17th corresponded to the premiere of the Beyonce documentry, Life Is But a Dream.
Lets dive a little deeper into how people are spending time on HBO.com. “Game of Thrones” was the second highest referring keyword for the past three months, accounting for 10% of the incoming search traffic. 99% of that was organic, non-paid search referrals. People who searched for “Game of Thrones” were the second most engaged group of visitors, with a Total Time Index of 65. The metric Total Time Index is indexed to 100, with 100 representing the keyword term that resulted in the most total time spent on the site for all visits. After visitors searching for “HBO boxing” and “Real Time with Bill Maher”, a weekly talk show, people searching for “Game of Thrones Season 3″ on average spent the most time on the site in the past three months–even though the show was off-air.
How will online behavior change as Game of Thrones Season 3 continues? Will traffic to HBO.com increase up until the season finale like it did last year? Will new sites bid for traffic from the popular television show? Will any of the pirating sites break into the list of top destinations? My guess is that the show’s popularity will continue to grow.
Carro is excited to join the Compete team as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, with a focus on all things social media. A third-year student at Northeastern University, Carro is pursuing a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Political Science. She has a passion for digital media. Follow her on Twitter @carrohalpin or connect on Google+