This week at the Television Critics Association press tour, the co-president of HBO confirmed Game of Thrones isn’t going anywhere.
It was a short, simple sound bite during an unrelated event, but it speaks volumes to HBO’s commitment to the show.
“The truth is when you see how thrilled he is with the production, we know we’ve succeeded partially by his satisfaction,” said Plepler, referring to George R.R. Martin, author of The Song of Ice and Fire series upon which Game of Thrones is based, “We told George we’d go as long as he kept writing.”
There was no further discussion, so we don’t know if Plepler is referencing a contractual obligation between HBO and Martin, or simply stating a basic intent of the premium network not to abandon the show two seasons in, like has happened with so many other HBO original dramas.
Many critics and naysayers have cited the extremely early announcement that the show would be picked up for a second season – it was announced before the second episode was aired – as evidence that they’re not taking it seriously, and are simply riding a temporary wave of Martin fans until they wear out. Personally, I think it’s evidence of a good strategy and a clear understanding of modern audiences.
More and more often lately, the most common complaint I here from fans of sci-fi/fantasy on television is that one can never count on a show to last. It’s to the point that one almost expects a given show to eventually let one down with a mid-story cancellation. We can count on one hand the number of television SFF series which have run to completion in the last decade. All the rest are leaving the audience with an unfinished story and a disappointed outlook toward other shows.
Some viewers – and I think the number is increasing – even refuse to watch a show until several seasons in, when they can be sure that they won’t be left hanging after the series has barely gotten off the ground. This is why, I think, HBO renewed so early. It’s also why they are unafraid to come right out and tell the audience that they are not planning on dropping this show until the material from Martin’s end runs out.
It gives the audience a sense of security, and I think it will increase their viewership and membership in the long run. It’s too bad that these kind of promises can only be made by premium stations like HBO, which don’t rely on ratings numbers to make their decisions for them every season.
The second season of Game of Thrones is currently in production, and will air on HBO in the spring of 2012.