We appear to be entering the era of record-breaking high-spend anchor series being a key component of streaming success. And it seems to be HBO that keeps bringing home the bacon in this market, too. With their latest high-profile streaming series, The Last of Us, also bringing the era of video-games-turned-series to its head, should we expect more programming in a similar vein? Blake & Wang P.A entertainment lawyer, Brandon Blake, has the news.
New Sky Debut Record
There can be little doubt that The Last of Us, an apocalyptic zombie story with a human twist, has become one of the sensational series of the moment. Unlike many of the recent attempts at adapting popular video game titles for the streaming screen, notably Netflix’s poorly-received take on the popular Resident Evil franchise, The Last of Us has been praised for remaining very true to the core tenets of the game series while still delivering a compelling on-screen story that works surprisingly well in the episodic series format. It’s rare that cross-media adaptations like this manage to woo both existing franchise fans as well as new audiences in quite this way.
With a heart wrenching finale now in the bag, the series has netted the biggest finale audience for a US-made debut series on Sky, the UK’s pay-TV giant.
Breaking that down further, the final episode attracted more than 3M UK viewers- a record that topples HBO’s existing record set by Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon last year. It also cements HBO Original Series as the streamer most consistently hitting the mark on high-budget, high-profile content like this, despite the negative press the final seasons of Game of Thrones attracted in its time. Outside of the US, The Last of Us is now the most-watched series in HBO Max history for the Latin American and European sectors, and the finale also netted an impressive 8.2M viewers over the streaming platform and HBO’s linear service in the US itself. All while competing with the Oscar broadcast, too.
The Last of Us has attracted glittering critical reviews as well as audiences in their droves since its launch. But it’s not the first HBO Original to perform fantastically for Sky, either, suggesting their licensing deal with the network is paying off on its investment. With the content-sharing deal due to run out in a few years, it will be interesting to see if there’s a renewal made with this in mind.
Its stellar run so far suggests that the market for cross-platform development of video game titles does exist. This is an arena we’ve seen several streamers dabble in over the last few years, as the search for minable IPs remains one of the biggest focuses in modern TV and film development. It’s honestly hard to think of a better example of the format done well, especially when compared to the many, many flopped attempts to do similar in recent years. Perhaps it’s time for other studios and production teams to look at what lessons can be learned from the series’ stellar performance to an audience that’s notoriously picky about on-screen handling of its beloved characters and stories.