Game of Thrones Won’t Return Until 2019, But We Knew That Already
Sophie Turner confirms what we already knew: Game of Thrones won’t be back until 2019.
Game of Thrones Season 7 had to sit out the Emmys this year due to their June-June award calendar, but the Golden Globes are different. It was only a year or so ago that the Globes moved their TV awards to a January-December eligibility calendar, and the move benefited HBO’s flagship show. While we don’t expect that many nominations next week, it still means the actors are doing the interview rounds.
And once again, Sophie Turner has revealed more than she probably was supposed to. The actress had accidentally spoiled minor things before (like her survival in Season 6). This time she was speaking about her upcoming release timetable and confirmed what most of us already guessed months ago: no one is planning to bring back the show before 2019.
When Variety asked if she was excited for 2018 with both X-Men and Season 8 arriving, Turner said the following:
Yeah, I’m really excited. “Game of Thrones” comes out in 2019. “Dark Phoenix” is in November. Then I have a couple indie movies coming out. I’m a producer on my next movie [“Girl Who Fell From the Sky”]. So I’m really excited about the future.
Welp. Of course, everyone is going nuts that GoT won’t be back this year, but in truth, this is not a surprise. Let’s do the math.
While HBO loves boasting about all the ways Game of Thrones is record-breaking, there are only two metrics they really care about.
The first is the audience growth. In a time when every returning show on the broadcast network is losing audience share year to year, as more cord cutters leave TV behind, Game of Thrones has done something no show has ever done ever in the history of TV: It has gained audience viewership every year for seven straight years.
The second is Emmy count. At this point, Game of Thrones has more Emmy nominations than any show ever, more wins in a single year than any show ever (Season 5) and more wins period than any show ever, with two more seasons to go.
Having broken all those records on the latter, HBO felt ok about sitting out the 2017 Emmys in favor of a summer slot to continue being able to claim the former. But the Emmys were a little odd as a result. Here the show had literally knocked down their Wall not three weeks ago, and now there wasn’t one nomination with their name on it and article after article reminding everyone that Season 7 won’t be eligible until *next* September.
To keep this weirdness to a minimum, there is no way Season 8 airs before Season 7 gets their Emmys. Can you imagine airing Season 8 next summer and then Season 7 gets all the nominations? Season 8 then limps into the 2019 Emmys, already forgotten. Can’t have that.
So that means holding the final season until after September 2018. But they can’t air right after, there’s too much competition on Sunday nights in the fall. The last thing the show wants is to risk losing out that audience-growth-all-the-way-through brass ring when it’s in their sights.
So when? When is the first really clear run on Sunday nights available? The answer is January 2019. Despite the fact that broadcast and basic cable no longer really hold to the Fall-and-Spring calendar, the truth is, not enough shows have really entered the dead-of-winter derby. That’s why PBS put Downton Abbey there for years, and why it’s where Victoria goes now –giving them the chance to get the biggest audiences they can. (It’s not *quite* as open a field as August is, but it’s close enough.)
Besides, with winter finally having arrived in Westeros, it only makes sense to have a marketing scheme that reads “Winter 2019.”
Therefore, my best guess for when the last six Game of Thrones episodes that make up Season 8 arrive is as follows: Either January 6, 2019, or February 10, 2019.
The former means episode 5 will go up against the second half of the Superbowl, but the rest have a completely empty schedule to compete against. (They could also simply put a one week break in for Superbowl Sunday.)
The latter will mean the show ends their run just as everything else returns to the airwaves, but assumes that when it comes to the last two episodes, everyone will time delay the premieres of the competition to watch.
My money’s on the former, but I don’t give a fig about Superbowls. How about you?
Meanwhile, Turner will be seen first in what may be the last of the 20th Century FOX produced X-Men films, when X-Men: Dark Phoenix arrives in theaters on November 2, 2018.