“Welcome to the beginning of the end,” a voiceover echoed through Radio City Music Hall in New York, as a live organist performed the Game of Thrones theme song. Holding court amid the media executives and socialites gathered in May to celebrate the final run of the most popular TV show in history was Richard Plepler, the HBO CEO who transformed the flagging cable channel into a powerhouse that ushered in a golden age of television. Game of Thrones’ final season has invoked a global fixation rarely seen in an era where streaming has fragmented viewing choices. The frenzy validates the bet Plepler made more than a decade ago, when he approved the most expensive pilot in HBO’s history for an out-of-the-box idea: a show about dragons, an army of the dead and incestuous love affairs. But beneath the glitz typical of an HBO premiere, the atmosphere evoked the end times. The evening marked Plepler’s last appearance as the leader of the network. In late February he abruptly quit after...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now