Game of Thrones premiere streams live on Facebook as HBO Now launches

Game of Thrones, the first of HBO's series to launch on the standalone streaming service HBO Now, will see its red carpet premiere streamed live on Facebook as the producers of television programming increasingly turn to social media to reach new viewers on mobile in real-time.

Facebook users will be able to view the season 5 red carpet premiere of the hit epic fantasy show as it streams live on April 12, and may also send questions via the series? Facebook age for the actors attending the red carpet event in San Francisco. Standalone streaming service HBO Now will be launching on the same day of the show?s premiere, enabling Apple TV users to watch remotely while other cable partners line up to offer the streaming service.

?Live-streaming of content is a no-brainer to create big spikes of excitement, as with a season premiere or sports event,? said Chris Mellow, director of digital and engagement at Grupo Gallegos, Huntington Beach, CA. ?However, all live-streaming really amounts to is replicating a known TV viewing behavior, the season premiere.

?People want to be the first to see their favorite shows. What television companies shouldn?t ignore is that new viewing behaviors, like binge watching, still need to be a big part of their overall launch plans.?

Tapping social media
Fans of the show, which is based on author George R.R. Martin?s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, will be able to watch top-billed actors including Maisie Williams, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau walk the red carpet at a San Franciscan building and answer questions from social media.

The Game of Thrones Facebook page has already seen more than 600 cast questions sent by users, including asking the actors which other characters have had the most influence on their own character?s development, where the cast expects to see their characters end up and what kind of dialogue fans can expect from this season.

?Game of Thrones fans should be ecstatic that the series will live-stream the season premiere for the second year in a row,? Mr. Mellow said. ?Super fans of the show, and fans of the actors, might also like the live-stream of the red carpet event, but the main focus will no doubt be the season premiere.

?And the social component of using Facebook as the streaming platform will ensure that new viewers are brought in when they see their friends are watching.?

The show is also promoting the premiere via the #GoTPremiereSF hashtag.

Viewers on Facebook will be able to see special snippets and behind the scenes glances at the new season, while more premiere photos will be shared for those on Instagram.

Linear TV
More major television networks are turning to live-streaming mobile applications and services to reach consumers while on-the-go. Consumers owning iPad, iPhone and Apple TV devices will be able to access the service on April 12, which offers immediate viewing of any episode belonging to any HBO series, as well as HBO original movies and other various Hollywood hit films.

Currently, Apple and Optimum are the network?s exclusive launch partners. However, other cable networks will likely jump on the opportunity to stream HBO Now once the Apple exclusivity period culminates.

?Television companies will be challenged with driving awareness and acceptance of live streaming,? said Dennis O'Malley, co-founder and CEO of ReadyPulse, San Carlos, CA. ?They will need to ensure the target audience, those people who heavy users of technology, know how to access the content and why it would be a better experience than regular TV.?

HBO will charge users $14.99 monthly for access, a significantly less expensive price than the cost for a cable package. While the network also offers HBO Go for anytime access to its repertoire of shows and films, that service requires a bundled television package.

HBO Now has the added convenience of being available on iOS mobile devices, enabling fans to catch up on their favorite programs while commuting, traveling or lounging on the couch at home.

?Given the future ability of direct response advertising embedded in live streaming, many more brands will shift to all mediums that can track the effectiveness of their content,? Mr. O?Malley said.

?I would predict in this medium that in addition to digital trailers that the main source of promotion for new live streaming shows will be through social media and specifically social media influencers.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York