HBO has signed a deal with political podcast Pod Save America that will see the popular show become a series of TV specials. The episodes will be shot and broadcast during the 2018 midterms, produced and starring the usual trio of (the other) Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor. It's the second time in recent months that the cable giant has sought to adapt a podcast, following its deal with 2 Dope Queens.
Podcasts jumping into bed with HBO may seem like a strange fit, especially given the network's love for well-heeled prestige drama. But it's likely a shrewd move, given the current broadcasting landscape and HBO's own need to find new audiences. This year sees the channel coming to the end a period of dominance where it can lay claim to owning Game of Thrones, the world's most hyped TV show.
When Game of Thrones began, its same-day ratings -- views within the first 24 hours of broadcast -- were 2.5 million. By ordinary cable standards, that's a success, and Westworld's first-season finale earned 2.2 million views during its live broadcast alone. But those figures look lackluster compared with Thrones' sixth season, which earned 7.7 million views in that same 24-hour window.
HBO, unlike other broadcasters, needs its subscribers to keep coming back to its platform in order to make money. It doesn't need to pull in Super Bowl–size audiences for all of its shows, so long as they comfortably claim around two million viewers and keep everyone paying.
That is where podcasts come in.
Since their creation, podcasts have been something of a black box, with creators (and advertisers) knowing only how many people downloaded each episode. Beyond that, nobody really knew if users were listening all the way through a show, if they listened to the ads or whether all the effort was for naught.