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Co-Author Of Book On HBO's History On Whether There's More Room For Success For The Game Of Thrones Franchise - Exclusive

Following the success of "Game of Thrones," HBO is once again facing the dilemma of how to keep a franchise alive outside of its original series. Given the immense viewership of "Game of Thrones" during its final season and the way it dominated the television landscape for eight seasons from 2011 to 2019 — it earned 59 Emmy Awards including two wins for Outstanding Drama Series — walking away from author George R.R. Martin and his sprawling fantasy stories was simply not an option.

"Game of Thrones," created for HBO by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is one of the many series longtime journalists Felix Gillette and John Koblin examine in their new book "It's Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO" (Viking). Gillette, of Bloomberg News, and Koblin, of The New York Times, chronicle the highs and lows in the cable and streaming giant's 50 years of existence — from the behind-the-scenes goings-on to the plethora of series and original movies that helped define the pioneering cable network in their own unique ways.

However, as HBO has discovered in the past couple of decades, not every one of their hit series has translated into other projects equal to the success of their predecessors. As such, it reasonably begs the question of whether the series where humans and dragons co-exist has enough fire in its belly to keep the "Game of Thrones" franchise breathing, which Gillette answered for Looper in an exclusive interview.

House of the Dragon marks a first for HBO, Gillette says

While HBO has had its share of major hit series, "Game of Thrones" provided the perfect storm for HBO in that it created a cross-section of prestige TV and an IP akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the "Star Wars" universe. However, becoming the next dominant entertainment franchise will be tricky, Felix Gillette told Looper.

"In the past, one thing HBO has never done very well was to expand their hit series into spinoffs, and they've tried over the years," Gillette said. "The 'Sex and the City' movies were commercially, fairly successful, but critically, panned for the most part. The 'Entourage' movie was a disaster. The 'Deadwood' movie was not amazing. Even 'The Sopranos movie, 'The Many Saints of Newark,' was not as good as the original series. It's a trick they've tried a bunch of times in the past. 'House of the Dragon' is the first time they've done a spinoff, prequel, [etc.] that has had a lot of popularity, which delivered a big audience."

As for the long-term prospects of "Game of Thrones" becoming a universe, only time — as well as some strategic business moves — will tell, Gillette said.

"It's an additional skill in the HBO playbook that they're working on. I don't think they're ever going to rely entirely on rebooting an IP," Gillette said. "They're never going to become Disney. That's the trick that Disney does better than anybody. For HBO in this next phase of the streaming wars, a lot of the competition is going to be not just here in the United States — where HBO has an incredibly strong brand — but they're going to need to go overseas. They're going to need to succeed in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and to do that, it's very promising that they can take a show like 'Game of Thrones,' which did have a big overseas following, and create another series. Sci-fi stuff travels well across cultures. It's an important trick for them to master."

"It's Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO" is new in stores and online.