Seven great houses, four big continents, one iron throne, one big wall, dragons, White Walkers, kings, queens, dwarves, giants…Welcome to the world of Game of Thrones! The show that has captured the imagination of millions of viewers in over 170 countries and still has enough juice left to keep everyone interested. It is the most illegally downloaded television programme on earth with sky-rocketing popularity that made an international team of researchers to set out to discover what makes the death and doom ridden epic so popular among the viewers across the globe.
At first glance, the show appears to be nothing but old foolish dramatization of power play with sword-fights, dragons, nudity and alcohol that one can certainly indulge in looking for an escape from reality and into fantasy. But the more people watch it, the more they realise that it runs deeper than mere fantasy escapism.
The gamble that HBO took in squeezing “A Song of Fire and Ice” (series of epic fantasy novels by the American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin) through our TV and laptop screens played extremely well. HBO assisted its transition by providing a large budget, an experienced directorial team and extensive post production support.
But the high production value and great talent doesn’t come cheap, it takes a whole lot of money to make one season of Game of Thrones. While most other shows don’t cost more than $2 million per episode, each GoT episode would cost about $6 million back in the earlier seasons. The budget however, has increased each season. The cost of every episode in Season 7 is believed to be $10 million with top five actors (Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pocketing over $ 2 million for every single episode as per estimates.
Game of Thrones is an investment for HBO that is paying off in spades for the network. What matters to HBO is that viewers are glued enough to their shows to maintain their subscriptions. The network’s subscribers are its bread and butter accounting for billions of dollars it earns in revenue each year and Game of Thrones has surely had a major role in it.
Part of the attraction of hit show Game of Thrones are also its exotic locations (Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland and Spain to name a few) and that’s had a huge impact on tourism of many of these countries. The show has been cited as a key factor behind the remarkable growth in annual visitors to Iceland, for example, from 566,000 in 2011, the year it premiered, to more than 1 million in 2015. Thousands of tourists are visiting Croatia purely because Game of Thrones is partly filmed in Dubrovnik, the filming site of “King’s Landing” from season two onwards.
HBO is investing money, time and effort to get the world of Westeros to everyone on the planet. Whether you watch it or not, but you must have heard about it – maybe on TV advertising or billboards or from a fanatic fan or the 2 million tweets that go around every time the show is on air!