Game of Thrones Season 4 Preview a Hit for Fans and HBO

Game of Thrones has always played by its own rules, but then again so does HBO, so it's a match made in TV heaven.

Feb 11, 2014 at 11:26AM

When HBO (a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)) has a hit series, it dominates in all corners of the globe. The lasting impact of series like The Sopranos and Sex and the City can be seen across every medium, and Game of Thrones is now following that legacy. Over the weekend the network released an extended 15-minute preview of the drama's new season to great acclaim, and as expected it resonated with its vast fan base.


(Credit: HBO)

It's not TV

So why does the series have the impact it has and what does it mean to HBO? The answer to at least part of that is in its past. The book series on which it is based (A Song of Ice and Fire) is one of the most successful of its kind. Written by George R.R. Martin, Thrones is an epic fantasy drama with colorful characters doing at times despicable things all in the name of power.

First published in 1996, the series was adapted by HBO in 2011. Featuring an ensemble cast, it didn't take long for the show to hit a high note with fans. For outsiders not yet familiar with the books, it soon became clear this wasn't just another period drama. Executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss clearly took their time and plotted out how they wanted to bring this world to life. Yet more importantly, HBO was firmly behind the pair and their ideas.

The premium channel was far and away the best place for this series to live -- the network is known for taking chances on big projects and has the pay cable protection to ensure it can air virtually whatever it wants. Although what sets Thrones apart isn't that it features an extreme amount or violence or nudity, but that it has an actual plot.


Not losing their heads

Martin has weaved a complicated web across seven massive books (two of which have yet to be published). The characters created in the series are all fleshed out, but they also all seem to have an expiration date. The Thrones series is notorious for offing people, no matter how crucial they may be perceived to be by readers. HBO knew this going in and didn't flinch in letting the series stay true to its source material.

That was never more apparent than on June 12, 2011, when the network aired the penultimate episode the show's first season that (two-year-old spoiler alert) killed off a major character in the closing seconds. This wasn't just any major character either, it was THE major character. Imagine pitching a series to a network, launching it to major fanfare, basing an entire campaign around a specific face and name, and then writing him off just as the show is finishing its massively successful freshman run. That's Game of Thrones.

It didn't end there either. It's become tradition for the penultimate episode to be the marquee installment of the season. While other shows may save those moments for a finale, Thrones does things its own way. In season two, during that next-to-last episode viewers were treated to the visual feast known as the "Battle of Blackwater," and last year audiences were bawling when the "Red Wedding" led to a massacre that claimed the lives of even more big name favorites.

Although those who had read the books knew all this was coming, nobody ruined the twists. Audiences were in large part completely caught off guard every time and HBO just sat back and watched it all play out in grand style.


(Credit: HBO)

Real prize

As a prize for its patience and foresight, HBO has been rewarded the last three years with a series that consistently cleans up on Emmy morning. The show is three for three in nominations for Best Drama and while it's never won in that category, it doesn't make a difference. Thrones is now an institution and will be a lock for a nomination until its goes off the air. This is a show that takes risks and it airs on a network known for doing the same. The series personifies its channel and is a testament to its legacy.

For the past few years, Thrones was just one piece of a larger network fabric that contained a number of equally ground-breaking shows, but in 2015 it's going to be the largest piece. With Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, and The Newsroom set to exit the fold this year, Game is set to be the heir to the HBO throne. While the network has a number of new series in the wings, Thrones will have to remain on top of its game. With the so-called "Purple Wedding" on the horizon, it doesn't look like that will be a problem.

Thrones' legacy has already been mostly forged and it will hopefully eventually capture that coveted Best Drama trophy once AMC's one-two punch of Mad Men and Breaking Bad comes off the table. For now though it will continue to pick up steam both on network channels and off.

Remember, Thrones is the most pirated show on television and one of HBO's most popular programs on its HBO Go app. HBO executives have even gone on record saying they don't care if people share their log-ins to watch it because it will just continue to build a stronger word of mouth. That's what is possible when you have a show like this and that's why the Internet is so focused on a 15-minute preview featurette. 

Winter is coming and it returns this April.

The next step for you

Want to figure out how to profit on business analysis like this? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even give you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers