Time Warner touts 1M+ viewer increase for 'Game of Thrones,' says HBO Now has increased reach

Time Warner Inc. said a total of 18.1 million viewers tuned into the season-five premiere of the HBO hit series Game of Thrones earlier this month, an increase of more than 1 million viewers over last year's season premiere.

HBO Game of Thrones Kaleesi

(Image courtesy of HBO)

The uptick, the conglomerate says, confirms its strategy of extending HBO beyond the pay-TV realm and into broadband-only homes.

Revenue for HBO increased by 4.4 percent to $1.4 billion in the first quarter, Time Warner said, without breaking out specific performance numbers for new over-the-top service HBO Now.

Since turning away a hostile takeover bid last summer by Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has embarked on an aggressive strategy of extending HBO's reach, as well as revamping cable network conglomerate Turner Networks.

Based on Wednesday's earnings report, the latter effort seems to be working for Bewkes, too, with Turner reporting a 5 percent revenue gain to $2.7 billion. Driving this success was the NCAA Mens' Basketball Tournament in March, which saw an 8 percent uptick in audience, averaging 11.3 million viewers across Turner channels TNT, TBS and truTV, as well as CBS. 

Overall, Time Warner's revenue rose 5 percent to $7.1 billion. But net income fell to $970 million from $1.3 billion in the comparable quarter, due largely to a soft advertising market. 

For more:
- read this Reuters story
- read this USA Today story

Earnings summary: Sizing up pay-TV earnings for the first quarter of 2015

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