Social media and the "Game of Thrones" finale: it's not all about spoilers, says communication studies professor
16-May-2019 11:05 AM EDT
With tens of millions of viewers each week, HBO’s award-winning series “Game of Thrones” features characters and themes that have become cultural touchstones.
Elizabeth Cohen at West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is available to comment on how the show, which will end this weekend, intersects her field of study. Cohen is an associate professor of communication studies.
“Social media often gets a bad rap around the time of series finales because people are afraid of spoilers," Cohen says. "But for what it’s worth, research suggests that spoilers probably won’t diminish your enjoyment of the show, so fans shouldn’t stress out too much if they accidentally see a post about some of their favorite characters biting the bullet (as if that would surprise anybody about ‘Game of Thrones’!).
"Still, I think that pressure to watch the show live in order to avoid spoilers has kind of an indirect benefit for us because the viewing becomes more of a shared event. Because we do live in a time now when people watch so many things on their own, there’s something very special when millions of people break viewing records to watch something at the same time. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl, but for fantasy fans.
"Many people will likely use social media during the airing just to be able to share the event with others, perhaps participating in conversations about the show using hashtags, or texting friends. A few years ago, I conducted a study that suggests that these types of online co-viewing activities can enhance people’s sense of community and belonging. For many, television is best shared with others, whether it’s in person or online.”
Elizabeth Cohen can be reached at Elizabeth.Cohen@mail.wvu.edu or 678.768.7765.