HBO confident 'Game of Thrones' will get second season: 'We're not nervous' -- EXCLUSIVE

game-of-thrones

HBO’s lavish fantasy epic Game of Thrones may be the biggest TV gamble in years, but even before the drama premieres Sunday night, odds are favorable that HBO will renew the show. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have been told to start thinking about storylines for next season, while HBO series chief Sue Naegle tells EW network executives feel optimistic that the series will get another round.

“We’re not nervous about it,” she says. “We’re all hopeful for a second season. We’re all feeling confident creatively.”

The bullishness isn’t just about predicting healthy ratings (though success on that front isn’t entirely unlikely either). Subscription-based HBO, Showtime and Starz focus on delivering exclusive and premium content that you can’t find anywhere else rather than mammoth Nielsens. That’s why procedural cop-doctor-laywer dramas (which draw big numbers for broadcasters) are rare on the pay networks — they’re not considered unique enough.

Thrones is arguably the most ambitious fantasy TV series ever produced and comes with an enthusiastic pre-built fan-base who devoured George R.R. Martin’s bestselling novels. It’s precisely the type of programming HBO believes viewers will pay to see — on the air, and also in the equally important home video and international distribution marketplace.

Plus, with the first 10-episode season of Thrones costing at least $50 million, the show ranks as one of the more expensive first TV seasons ever produced. The network has scheduled 11 airings of the premiere episode across its six channels during the first 26 hours after its debut. The amount of start-up capital spent bringing the mythical land of Westeros to life makes having only a single season a rather worrisome proposition. Says Naegle: “You don’t want to see shows like this that are a big investment do one season and out.”

Another, lesser factor is the relationship between the network and the producers on the show and how difficult the production and script development process has been. “And Thrones has been a dream,” Naegle says.

Still, nothing is set in stone. No matter how much momentum there’s behind the show, or how quality-driven and multi-platform-based the business model, HBO still needs Thrones to deliver a certain number on Sunday nights to continue. And its relatively large budget is a double-edged sword: Thrones ratings need to be stronger than a Treme or an In Treatment or The Wire — HBO shows that received renewals based largely on critical acclaim. But given the success of True Blood and AMC’s The Walking Dead, high-quality, adult-targeted genre shows on cable have recently proven they can indeed deliver enviable numbers, and strong early reviews suggest Thrones might have what it takes.

Be sure to go to EW.com after watching HBO’s Thrones on Sunday for our recap critiquing the premiere episode, plus we’ll have Thrones ratings on Monday. Plus bookmark our Game of Thrones Central and follow me on Twitter: @james_hibberd

Comments (38 total) Add your comment
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  • Stacie

    Never read the books or anything, but I can’t wait for this.

    • kgb

      Since HBO is the controller of this situation, they can bring it back for a Season 2 even if it sucks, DUH !!!

  • Harry

    I am excited about Game of Thrones, but wary. I will never forget what happened with Carnivale. At least this time I know what happens even if they do cancel it.

    • Matt W

      Oh I just shed a tear for Carnivale. So sad.

      I already had a feeling of a second season, I just hope they don’t judge everything on ratings. John from Cincinatti was also another lost show.

      • Matt Moore

        John from Cincinnati was a lost show, but it certainly isn’t a missed show.

  • JLAJRC

    My biggest fear is that it might end up like “Deadwood” or “Rome,” which were popular, but because they were so expensive to make HBO had to cancel them. I have no doubt this show will be popular and easily get a second season. The big question is will there be a third season?

    • muhahaha

      i am still sad that deadwood didn’t get a fourth season.

      • Mike

        Blame Matt W. above for enjoying John from Cincinatti! LOL That’s the reason Deadwood didn’t come back. I miss it too.

      • Mike

        And yes…I know budgetary and ratings were other reasons too. But Milch was involved on both shows.

      • steve

        Big Spoiler a couple posts below posted by some A** hole named michael. Fair warning, hopefully EW takes it down soon.

      • steve

        Alright, they took it down, Thanks EW. As a person who has read the books i wouldnt want anyone to be spoiled for some of the twists and turns this series takes.

    • Kelly

      Thats what I am thinking about too, because A storm of swords (book 3) i think is the best of them all. I really want to see that get put on tv.

  • Blue

    Stop building it up so big. The hype is going to be so big it will never live up and then it will get canceled and it will be all your fault EW.

  • MP

    Can’t we just enjoy at least a FEW episodes before we start getting all anxiety filled with a possible 2nd season? Can’t we just savor it for what it is, right now?

    • Rita

      @MP I agreeee..!!

  • Christine Valada

    I saw the first two episodes at an HBO screening last week. They are nothing short of brilliant and gorgeous. I have NOT read the books. I don’t think HBO has anything about which to worry.

  • dude

    dude. flag your spoilers.

    • James Hibberd

      I removed the guy’s comment. Fans should play nice and not spoil what’s going to happen for newbies here… when I do the recap on Sunday going to include a big no spoilers plea so we can keep the discussions safe for those who haven’t read the books…

      • crispy

        THANK YOU! One of the things I’m most looking forward to is watching my friends’ reactions to the plot twists.

      • The Jackal

        That is more or less the reason I hope the show goes at least 3 seasons

      • crispy

        Totally! I want to watch people throw stuff at the TV when they do the Red Wedding episode.

      • steve

        That’ll be a nice day for a…..Red Wedding

      • Jim

        You could play another one bites the dust too

      • Nothing Can Keep Us Together

        its not our problem.they don’t have to read the comments if they don’t know about the story

  • Zacd

    so what is the number hbo needs on sunday nights?

  • SciyuFiyu

    SPOILER.
    MAN! SERIOUSLY!?

  • The Jackal

    Thats messed up but funny, i read the books so no spoilers bother me, but if I didnt’ I probably wouldnt be laughing. Also anyone realize that line about starting to look for storylines for season 2? I’m pretty sure the next 4 seasons are laid out pretty clear for them they just need to translate it to screenplay format.

    • thin

      It seems like GRRM said either on his blog or in an interview that they would probably (or there’s a good chance, anyway) be splitting up the bigger books into a couple of season, so if that’s the case, we’ve got even more than four laid out already.

      • Karen

        Hey there Tracy! Martin’s writing style is what I airpse to reach one day, it’s absolutely amazing. Writing epic fantasy is my long term goal, and if I could come anywhere close to Martin I would be satisfied. I read that he had experience as a television show writer too, but I never put that together with the way he wrote the first book. Now that you mention it, I see it right away. I know what you mean about the characters, each one was so unique. He really brings them to life. I’m curious to see how HBO did with choosing actors for those roles. Thanks for your comment!

  • Tajah

    Haven’t read the books but am very excited to watch the series. I saw the 15 minute preview and it looks fantastic! Here’s hoping for good numbers and lots of seasons of Thrones.

  • Arya Stark

    Maybe they can order seasons six and seven right away and force GRRM to finish the series!

  • Merrydan

    We picked HBO up just for the series. Might even make some lemon cakes Sunday…

  • Nothing Can Keep Us Together

    can’t wait to see how this show portrays cersei and jamies twisted relationship.

  • Shawn

    They could do what Starz did for Spartacus and renew either befor eth efirst episode or shorly after. I know was hesitant aout watching Spartacus but as soon as I heard it was picked up for 2 seasons I knew it had to be good so I jumped on board

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