Glad tidings, oh ye weary Game of Thrones fanbase traveler and welcome back to another installment of the vocal minority’s favorite off-season time killer.
In a normal Oz post, we typically peruse the possibilities of the upcoming Season without the knowledge of books or leaks or other spoilerish summations. But today, a man is looking further forward than ever before, because let’s be honest… HBO doesn’t want to lose us.
Disclaimer: For all of you Wall newbies (Wallbies?): You have entered the realm of the Unsullied; where show fact and written fiction are separated by a man with only a television and a moderately priced subscription to Home Box Office. My oath states that no books may be read until the conclusion of the show, and a man is nothing if he is not an oathkeeper.
This also includes all forms of leaks, confirmed or un, as well as spoilery content sometimes supplied on this here very site. As a result, such information is strictly forbidden in the text and commentary below.
If you were looking for a safe place to speculate about Season 7 without being spoiled, then welcome to the party, pal. Oz posts are a certified safe space.
As Unsullied, we must dine on what is served by buffet curators David and Dan only. And dammit, a man is hungry. But to achieve winter, we must wait until summer. And the wait is almost over.
Originally, this post did include some Season 7 speculation. But the hostess with the mostess, a.k.a Sue of House Fury, correctly suggested that it be divided into separate posts. This is why she is the Editor-in-Chief and Oz is not. Thus, a man gives you an abbreviated LF. The good news (depending on your POV) is that it means there will be another LF next week. So, call your friends.
Let’s talk spinoffs.
The power and draw of Game of Thrones are undeniable and will likely be remembered in television history and lore as one of the most groundbreaking series ever to grace the small screen. Regardless of your opinion on writing, directing and adaptation, it will go down as a relatively large risk that ended up netting HBO a Casterly Rock of riches. And there’s a lot to be said for that alone.
We could mull over a swath of data to support this claim. But at the end of the day, the one number that matters the most to HBO going forward is fairly obvious…
Upper management at Home Box Office clearly recognizes what GoT has done and understand the importance of subscriber retainage. And the one thing they want to avoid in the end is a heavy dose of attrition.
Although it’s nearly impossible to ascertain the exact reason why subscribers initially choose to subscribe (as there are a number of factors to entertain), the trend speaks for itself.
Game of Thrones debuted in 2011 and ever since, HBO has enjoyed a marked and leveled increase in the number of $15 monthly increments they collect. A portion of that can be attributed to accessibility (HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO TO and FRO). Another portion could be given to the programming unrelated to Westeros and Essos pre-2014. But make no mistake, most of it is GoT. None of the other programming introduced since 2014 seems to have aided in an increase, and that should be troubling for upper management.
At best, the accompanying programming assisted with retainage. But even then, subscriber numbers have seemingly plateaued.
What is unclear (or not publicly published) is the number of subscribers that cancel as soon as a respective season of GoT ends. But HBO does understand that they have tapped into a different strain of viewer and want to do what they can to keep them honest. They also realize that this group (us, basically) is largely fickle and as part of that high-risk demographic, they stand to lose a substantial (in relative terms) amount of unloyalists once the Game is over. Stopping the bleeding before it starts seems to be high on the priority list, as one would expect.
My uneducated guess, which is backed by absolutely nothing scientific, is that the brass at HBO have a magic number that they are willing to swallow if necessary. Assuming GoT attrition, going from 134M to 128M would likely be somewhat celebratory. Worst case they would want would probably be around the 120M mark which would be a sizeable loss at around a 10% decrease, and would put it right smack dab in the middle of the 2012-13 numbers.
Obviously, sustaining the current subscriber number (or even increasing it) would be preferable. The investment in Westworld and the accompanying superstar cast is just the first step in an attempt in maintaining what some say is the peak of HBO, especially considering the multitudes of competition that have entered the Game of original programming since the dawn of GoT (the rise of Netflix, Amazon, etc. and God knows how many more on the horizon).
This is what the TV industry refers to as a saturated market.
So, what do we get? A spin-off. One that needs be timely in relation to the endgame to avoid a major defection, which may be the underlying motive to this. In case you missed it, that article essentially says that the showrunners could be working on Season 8 for the next year and a half, putting the premiere of the final installments sometime in 2019.
And while HBO’s Casey Bloys doesn’t confirm or deny it, he does state that “they have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule.” But that’s nothing new. Maybe this is due to David and Dan burnout. Maybe the epicness of the endgame will take extra time in filming and post-production. Or maybe this is a simply a stalling tactic in order to give the spinoff team more time for development.
Regardless, we are getting one. And just one, for now anyway.
As a non-book reader, my educated guess on what it will be is largely uneducated, and therefore I defer to the experts. But historically with spinoffs, the primary goal is to build on the characters or descendants of the characters that the viewer already has an established relationship with.
Of course, here in GoT land, HBO’s biggest issue will be appealing to and retaining the casual GoT viewer (i.e. the ones that have no outside knowledge of GRRM’s world other than what has been displayed on Game of Thrones… which is most of them).
And since it has been made clear that whatever is selected as a spin-off will be a prequel, HBO will have to do their duty to associate the appeal all while making those casual viewers understand why they are not creating a story about Arya 30 years after the GoT finale that centers on teaching her children how to change their faces to avoid punishment when they get in trouble at school. Arya done with your homework?
However, if HBO was in the mood to give us a continuation of current characters, here is my short list of ones that probably wouldn’t work, but might be entertaining for at least half of an episode.
Yes, this one is old and abused but worth bringing back up since “spinoff” has come into play. The concept art is already done, for crying out loud. It would have to be an “adult swim” type deal. Don’t let Disney get a hold of it. Just look what they’ve done to Tangled the Series and you will wholeheartedly agree.
The Adventures of Rebellious Roberto
HBO’s attempt at diversification.
But in all seriousness, this one made the most sense in keeping the commonality of the characters we know. HBO already has flashbacks and the associated actors to build on. But according to GeRM, it ain’t happening, which is unfortunate. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Arthur Dayne fight again?
Jaime Loves Cersei
Through some type of Westerosi miracle, Cersei is mercifully relieved of her duties as Queen and allowed to go live at Casterly Rock with Jaime for the rest of her days. However, the conditions are that she may never leave the Rock and can never drink wine again.
Like I said… interesting for about half an episode.
Here’s the first of my personal submissions…
Davos and Mel: Love is Hell
HBO has ordered the pilot already and Liam is in. I’m hoping to convince Carice at Con of Thrones.
And the second (which is the top vote-getter from the Ozlings)…
Full House Stark
Assuming they all survive (which is one hell of an assumption), this semi-dramatic sitcom follows the surviving Stark kids and their antics living in Winterfell, post-Great War. The only fly in the ointment is that pesky Uncle Petyr who is a bored practical joker that constantly sets up internal conflicts between the siblings, inciting a ladda of chaos.
Don’t lie. You would watch.
The bad news is that once Season 8 is done, these characters are most likely gone for good. The good news is that we won’t have to suffer through any ill-fated horrific spinoff ideas ruining our view of the current characters forever. You know, like Joanie Loves Chachi (RIP Erin Moran).
We should thank HBO for that at least. I’ll tune in regardless. But HBO still has to find that dot to connect for the casual folk.
That’s it for me today, ladies and sers! I hope this post finds you all well and persevering until the overdue premiere date. I don’t know what the hell we will do if Season 8 doesn’t come until 2019.
If you happen to be coming to the Nashville Con at the end of the month, please let a man know! If you are on the fence about it, don’t be. Just come on. You can sleep in Sue’s room. We shall meet and greet and find food to eat. All men (and women) must dine. And may there always be peace in your realm…
“Unbowed. Unbent. Unsullied.”
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