Yes, the fate of Westeros has been decided (at least on HBO). Fans know that Game of Thrones’ famed Iron Throne was [spoiler warning] claimed, technically, by no one: The dragon Drogon immolated the world’s most uncomfortable chair.
But according to some, the throne might not the only thing that was torched Sunday night. Some are predicting that HBO’s subscriber base might melt, too.
Twitter has been awash in Thrones’ fans promising to cancel their subscriptions once the fate of Westeros was announced, and plenty of news outlets are offering tutorials on how to do it. And while this isn’t altogether unexpected—it’s called “churn” in the biz, apparently—HBO seems particularly vulnerable. Mintel research found that HBO Now subscribers were twice as likely as other streamers to cancel service if “a specific show/program was cancelled or ended.”
Not that other streaming services are immune. A new study suggests that half of all Millennial viewers would cancel their subscriptions to Netflix if the service stopped airing reruns of The Office or Friends—perennially two of Netflix’s most popular shows. That’s kind of an issue, since NBCUniversal plans to launch its own streaming service soon and, y’know, take those lucrative programs (which it owns) off Netflix’s hands.
But an even greater threat to Netflix is Disney, which is set to open the doors to its streaming service, Disney+. The Mouse House will likely pull its content off of Netflix, too (including all those superhero movies that we—well, I—like so much). And Disney’s service is going to be $6 cheaper than Netflix. As Forbes’ Stephen McBride says, “While Netflix is running into debt ‘trying out’ new shows, Disney already has the best of the best in its arsenal.”
Oh, and Disney just bought Hulu, too.
(By the way, HBO subscribers aren’t the only ones pulling the plug. Director Reed Morano had planned to film a movie called The Power in Georgia. But when the pro-life “heartbeat bill” became law there earlier this month, he pulled the production, saying “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.” That decision might be the first of many.)
But while Thrones’ fans may be treating HBO like Daenerys treated King’s Landing, people aren’t ready to let the show go yet—even if it’s just to complain about it. (And, as Adam Holz noted yesterday, there’s a whole lot of complaining going on.) We won’t recount all the quibbles that people have had with the series’ final stanzas, because really. Enough’s enough. (And some people actually liked it.) But I will point out that after reporting an errant coffee cup made it into Westeros, another liquid receptacle made a cameo in the finale, too: This time it was a water bottle.
Other fans are in apparent need of counseling—and some counselors are ready to help. (“The professionals will help them digest their feelings and interpretation of the show, which could range from anger and confusion to sadness and grief,” reads an ad for such services on bark.com.) Others may want to take trips to the real locales that represented Westeros, and there are plenty of services for that, too. Then there are those who won or lost money betting on Game of Thrones. One betting site, Ladbrokes, asked bettors “who would sit on the Iron Throne,” which means that those who said “no one” were, technically, the big winners. (See spoiler above.) Oddly, another betting site listed the eventual ruler of Westeros as the runaway favorite to be the eventual ruler of Westeros—even though the selection was an utter shocker to many fans. Hmmmm ….
On a more somber GoT note, Maisie Williams—who played Arya in the show, and who started when she was the impressionable age of 13—says that Game of Thrones hurt her mental health. The criticism she suffered online was almost too much. “I still lie in bed at, like, 11 o’clock at night telling myself all the things I hate about myself,” Williams told CNN. “It’s just really terrifying that you’re ever going to slip back into it. That’s still something that I’m really working on, because I think that’s really hard. It’s really hard to feel sad and not feel completely defeated by it.”
She’s not the only one with some critical words for social media. Selena Gomez says that it’s been “really been terrible” for people of her generation. “It does scare me when you see how exposed these young boys and young girls are,” she said at the Cannes Film Festival. “They are not aware of the news. I think it’s dangerous for sure. I don’t think people are getting the right information sometimes.” Meanwhile, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown is talking about how she’s been bullied. “I have dealt with situations both in real life and online that are soul-breaking and it genuinely hurts reading some of the things people have said,” she told Glamour.
But things aren’t all dour on the Stranger Things front. The show is apparently precipitating a return of 1985’s New Coke, which some might call the Game of Thrones finale of its day: much hyped and deeply disappointing.
But lest we leave this episo—er, issue, of Culture Clips on a deeply disappointing note of its own, let’s conclude on a happy ending, shall we? Flying cars are a go! Sure, it’s not as cool as a pet dragon, but we’ll take what we can get.