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'Game of Thrones' Will Return Later than Usual, And There May Be a Good Reason For It

By Dustin Rowles | Game of Thrones | October 30, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Game of Thrones | October 30, 2015 |

Yesterday, HBO announced its release dates for its winter shows the 70’s set Scorsese joint, Vinyl, as well as Togetherness and Girls. Normally, HBO debuts winter shows in the middle of January, which means they end their run in time for Game of Thrones to start in the last week of March or first week of April.

However, the 10-episode run of Vinyl actually won’t premiere until February 14th (and the comedies a week later), meaning that Game of Thrones realistically couldn’t begin until April 24th, but more likely, May 1st, or possibly even later (there is also the very unlikely chance that Westworld debuts first, pushing Game of Thrones’s debut back into the middle of the summer).

No big deal — we wait a few extra weeks to find out what happened to Jon Snow. But as Joanna notes over on Vanity Fair, there may be another reason for this:

There are several reasons why HBO might have decided to monkey with their schedule this year, but the most popular guess among fans of the Game of Thrones books is that HBO is giving Penguin Random House and George R.R. Martin just a little more time to release The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, before Season 6 kicks off. There are actually plenty of clues to indicate that the book could be dropping in early 2016.

We’ve previously mentioned the possibility that HBO, as a courtesy to Martin, is trying to allow the author this last chance to tell the next chapters of his saga. Martin’s seventh and final book certainly won’t be out before Game of Thrones wraps up on HBO, so series creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff get the pleasure of being the first to conclude the Song of Ice and Fire saga. So why not let Martin, at least, get to tell us all first whether or how Jon Snow survives that lethal cliff-hanger?

Courtesy! HBO may have altered their entire television line-up as a courtesy to George R.R. Martin. How nice.

There also may be another reason to start later, as well. This year, in between True Detective and The Leftovers, HBO aired Emily Mortimer’s Doll and Em, which is a show that absolutely no one watches. The month of September was essentially a dead month for HBO. Moving Game of Thrones back means potentially airing Westworld from July to September, nixing Doll & Em, and getting rid of that dead month, and moving straight into The Leftovers season three (assuming there is one). Or, HBO could replace The Brink, which was cancelled earlier this week, with Doll & Em and pair it with Ballers and get the same desired effect. For promotional reasons, it would also benefit HBO to be able to seamlessly move from Game of Thrones to Westworld to The Leftovers.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.