HBO has announced that they have renewed Game Theory with Bomani Jones for a second season. Deadline broke the news Tuesday morning with a press release dropping a few hours later (standard protocol for planned good news).
Beyond the renewal news and a few quotes, the Deadline article and the press release were both light on details other than that the show was indeed renewed. There were no firm details on when to expect the second season, how many episodes would be in the second season, and what timeslot to expect for the second season of Game Theory (the first season aired after Last Week Tonight with John Oliver at ~11:30 pm ET on Sundays).
If you’re a fan of the show, we’re hearing a bit of good and bad news there. There will likely be more episodes in this upcoming season (the first season had a pretty sparse six episodes), but the second season may not return until 2023.
While the particulars of the second season are still in flux, the renewal throws a lot of cold water to some of the gleeful ratings analysis from conservative news outlets and blogs, as the show’s’ ratings were obsessively analyzed. An author on multiple articles on the ratings performance has gone as as only referring to the show as ‘Race Theory’ and tweeting out a poll of the bigger media failure with the options being CNN+ or Bomani Jones (the tweet has now been deleted). Jones seemed to acknowledge this obsession with his show with a tweet shortly after the renewal news was made public.
and at least today, let the haters hate. i only got time for love. can’t celebrate a win with losers. stick with the winners today.
— bomani (@bomani_jones) May 3, 2022
It will be really interesting to see where HBO does insert Game Theory into its lineup for its second season. The majority of the ratings analysis out there was that the show didn’t retain much of it’s lead-in audience which, while certainly relevant, really doesn’t seem to acknowledge that the show was airing close to midnight on Sunday, when people go to sleep, and that the ratings drop-off is something that has occurred for all programs that have followed Last Week Tonight.
For what it’s worth, I watched all six of the the episodes and not once did I actually watch it on Sunday night, because, frankly I’m old and lame now. Would an earlier timeslot be better? A different day of the week? Would it be better to pair the show with Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and air it monthly, perhaps? Those are all questions HBO will have to look at as it looks to improve the show itself as well as the ratings performance of a second season.
Personally speaking and acknowledging that Jones has both his super fans and his super haters, I thought the first season was very strong and came off as very polished and constructed for a new show. The show took aim at a lot of larger institutions and trends in sports such as nepotism in football hiring, the Masters, the NFL draft, and Coach K.
I think, generally speaking, these deep dive stories, which were usually the back half of the show, landed with their intended audience and were of value to HBO on social media. The first half of Game Theory usually was a mix of interviews, skits, and shorter monologues, which was more of a mixed bag week to week. That’s where I think HBO and Jones will likely tinker the most for a second season.
It will be interesting to see what changes are made to the show as clearly beyond the fact that it’s coming back, there are still a lot of decisions that are up in the air. That said many personalities and networks have tried and failed to sustain an edgy late night sports talk show. We’ve seen Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann, Katie Nolan, Stephen A. Smith, Joe Buck, and others come and go without finding much success in the format. It’s too early to tell if HBO and Jones will buck that trend, but it’s encouraging he’ll get a second season to make that case.