And those fan videos generate 89% of all “Thrones” views on YouTube, according to a new analysis by Internet video-software vendor Zefr. The HBO-run “GoT” channel has more than 172 million views to date. But that’s dwarfed by the estimated 1.4-plus billion of “Game of Thrones” YouTube videos uploaded by users, according to Zefr.
The fan content includes this video compiling reactions to the infamous season 3 “Red Wedding” episode, which has been viewed more than 10.7 million times. All told, more than 1,700 Red Wedding-related videos are hosted on YouTube, and those have been viewed more than 40 million times.
“Once a new episode airs, fan communities breathe new life into the show, revealing the power of fans to turn a TV show into a cultural phenomenon,” Zefr audience analyst Erik Weber said. “Because ‘Game of Thrones’ is so captivating, and frequently shocking, fan-made videos that get shared online are fittingly over the top themselves, demanding plenty of attention in their own right.”
Overall, fan-created videos drive 86% of the views of branded content on YouTube, according to Zefr.
Media firms once would have vigorously policed Internet sites like YouTube, demanding that websites pull down copyrighted material (in favor of driving consumers to their official outlets). But increasingly, TV networks and other entertainment companies are tapping into YouTube and social media to let user-created content flourish — seeing it as valuable promotion.
Google’s research has found that TV-related activity on YouTube, including the user-created content, helps boost ratings. The Internet giant found a positive correlation between Nielsen TV ratings and traffic on its services (Google searches, YouTube searches and YouTube video views).
Also key is that fan-posted material can keep TV viewers engaged in a show during the hiatus between seasons. Need a “Game of Thrones” fix until season five in 2015? Westeros enthusiasts can watch — and rewatch, share and comment on — this Bad Lip Reading video, which has more than 13 million views on YouTube: