For the last entry on the list, and perhaps the best show on television right now, we fittingly head back to HBO. The premium cable juggernaut that started it all now produces the most expensive show on and damn is it good. Unlike The Walking Dead, which looks at its source material as a thematic guideline, Game Of Thrones more closely follows the books from which it is adapted, or at least as close as budget and time constraints will allow. Dragons and medieval battles can be pricey. Game Of Thrones is also the best new-age example of the decline in network ratings. 20 years ago, people for the most part watched network programming or popped in a video tape. Now, with the availability of a multitude of options, and thanks to the accessibility of the internet in that time frame, Game of Thrones has become the internet's most pirated show according to TorrentFreak. In 2013, Game Of Thrones averaged over 5 million TV viewers each week (not including HBO Go streaming), and nearly 6 million illegal downloads in the same time. While HBO doesn't get credit in the ratings race for said downloads, that is more time spent by the viewer not watching the broadcast networks. Couple that with the fact it's still HBO's highest rated show since The Sopranos, the suits can still count it as a win. Those are the shows that drastically changed the cable landscape, but they certainly aren't the only ones that matter. The big networks have suffered because as these shows bring viewers to cable, and it's their sister programming that helps keep people there. Masterpieces like Six Feet Under and Deadwood, as well as more targeted programming like Sex and the City or Entourage, helped solidify HBO atop the hill. FX built its brand with 18-49 males in mind, surrounding their dramas with Emmy bait like Damages, top notch comedies such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, or shows that fall in both courts like Louie. Not everything has worked (Terriers was excellent, but lasted only a year), but the cable stations have proved time and again they are willing to take risks and think outside the box in a way the old networks won't do. And the television viewer has rewarded them for finally putting some smart shows back on the old boobtube.
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Based just north of Detroit Michigan, Brian Kronner writes for Geek Magazine, and acts as their Managing Web Editor at GeekExchange.com
Past web-works include founding of Grizzly Bomb, contributions to TvFanatic and a writer/editor at Bam Kapow...