“Succession” dominated this year’s Emmy nominations with 25 noms — including a record-breaking 14 in the acting categories, the most ever for a series. But beyond the upcoming Season 4, HBO/HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys said there’s no report yet on how much longer the show will continue after that.
“Those questions, ‘How many more seasons do you want to go and do you have the story to tell?’ We always will defer to our showrunners,” Bloys told Variety on Tuesday afternoon, still on a high after HBO and HBO Max scored a combined 140 nominations — a new record for the company, beating out a singular HBO’s 137 nods in 2019. “So that is really for [creator] Jesse Armstrong to decide. He wanted to break this season, the fourth season, and then see how he was feeling. I think he’s currently deciding what he wants to do. I don’t think he wants to close anything off. I think he just kind of wants to see how he feels, and I totally respect that. Whether he decides to keep going or call it a day, is really up to him.”
When HBO and HBO Max are separated out, HBO still beat Netflix in this year’s network tally — pulling 108 for HBO (over Netflix’s 105) and 32 for HBO Max. The TV Academy opted not to include a network tally in this year’s announcement, and Bloys said he was fine with that — maintaining his position that HBO and HBO Max should be considered as one.
“We had this conversation last year,” he said. “I can’t think of another platform that has the same management, the same business affairs, the same production, same programming head. Everything on HBO airs on HBO Max. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the shows get recognized. And I think everything else is just kind of white noise. But regardless, it was a good day, whether you look at them individually or combined.”
As for the overall performance, “I was very pleased with the amount of shows and the depth,” he said. “In other words, it wasn’t one show that dominated. We had a number of shows that did really well. I would like to see all of our shows recognized, but it’s really nice to see a lot of them recognized and a lot of them not just a passing nomination here or there but really, really deep. That’s always a nice endorsement.”
Besides “Succession,” other big HBO performers included “The White Lotus,” which landed 20 nominations (the most of any limited series), “Hacks,” “Euphoria” and “Barry.” But there were snubs as well, including “The Gilded Age,” “And Just Like That” and “Winning Time.” But Bloys opted not to dwell on that.
“You’d like to see everybody’s hard work recognized. But today’s not the day to worry about the snubs and I’d rather just celebrate the nominations and leave it at that,” he said.
Meanwhile, “The White Lotus” is about to wrap Season 2, and Bloys said creator Mike White has come up with “a really interesting premise. Examining a new group of characters in a different setting is really fun. So we’ll see how Season 2 does. I’m excited to put together another amazing cast. And, like the conversation with Jesse, it will really depend on, does Mike feel like he’s got more story to tell or more themes to explore? And we would really kind of defer to him on that.”
“Barry” and “Hacks” both ended their most recent seasons on a note that could have potentially doubled as series finales. But Bloys said not to worry: The shows’ next season plans are already in place. “A lot of shows that we have done over the years, where we’ll have a lot of people thinking that they’ve kind of written themselves into a corner or did that feel like a finale,” he said. “I honestly think that’s creators challenging themselves to where are they going to go next. Every one of these creators, I would follow anywhere in terms of their storylines. So if that’s how they wanted to end this season, I do know that they have great plans for following seasons.”
One of the biggest surprises for Bloys on Tuesday was the performance of HBO Max’s limited series “Station Eleven,” a critical darling that received seven nominations. Creator Patrick Somerville is developing another title from “Station Eleven” author Emily St. John Mandel, “The Glass Hotel,” which could be conceived as a sequel of sorts.
“No news on that at this point,” he said. “But, again, I was mostly pleased that the show was recognized. Remember, that came out at the end of last year, and there’s been a lot of TV between January and now.”
Then there’s the new corporate structure, under Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav. Bloys declined to get into specifics on what might be next, but he did say, “At a top level, I would say two things: One is in terms of what we’re doing creatively, David has been nothing but supportive and excited about everything that we’ve got going. In terms of plans for whether we’re renaming it, the reality is we’re bringing two programming services together. So all of those conversations, how much programming from each service and what should the name be and all of those conversations are ongoing. And I think, not just for us, but the entire industry is at a point where there’s across the board conversations about, what is streaming going to look like? What does linear look like? What is the future? I’ve had nothing but support for the creative visions that we are bringing to life, these creators.
“I would love to just shout out my team,” he added. “Francesca Orsi, Sarah Aubrey, Amy Gravitt, Nina Rosenstein, Lisa Heller and Nancy Abraham are our production and post production groups, our business affairs. I just have to say how impressed and thrilled I am that with everything going on in the industry, this group continues to just focus on the work and getting the best shows they can get. A day like today, I’m just so thrilled that all of their hard work is recognized.”
As for what’s keeping him up at night in the business, Bloys cited “the post-Netflix correction. How do you make the streaming model work? How do you make it profitable? The path to profitability? That’s a big puzzle obviously. That affects a lot of the conversations we’re having.”
And, of course, coming up next for HBO is “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon.”
“I would say the measure of success is the same kind of metrics that we use for everything,” he said of expectations. “Which is, some combination of ratings, of reviews, of buzz, all of the above. But there’s no threshold for it’s gotta hit this many viewers or anything like that.”