A 1980s tale of a nuclear disaster behind the Iron Curtain became an unlikely global phenomenon and a ratings juggernaut. Anchoring a new night of original programming for HBO on Mondays, the Chernobyl limited series grew its ratings every week. Its viewership has surpassed 12 million to become the most watched HBO limited or miniseries since Band of Brothers.
Given Chernobyl‘s success, which includes 19 Emmy nominations, it is not surprising there has been chatter about HBO mulling another historical miniseries with Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and executive producers Carolyn Strauss and Jane Featherstone.
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“We have a deal with Craig, and he is thinking about a lot of things,” HBO president of programming Casey told Deadline at TCA on Wednesday. “Obviously he has an interest in history but we are not looking to make a franchise out of it. There is no plans to specifically find another manmade or natural disaster and talk about it. But if he says, ‘I really want to explore this’, and there is a really good story there, an important story, we would be open to it. Anything he gets excited about I would get excited about.”
Chernobyl was a co-production between HBO and Sky. With the British satcaster now owned by Comcast, would it continue to be a viable co-production partner for HBO?
“We have had good experiences with Sky and BBC; we know the executives there, they work with talent we like; we sent them Chernobyl, they sent us Catherine the Great,” Bloys said. “I imagine both will continue.”
After successfully expanding beyond Sunday to a second night of executive programming with Chernobyl (HBO also has originals on Friday), the network is not rushing to expand its programming footprint further.
“I think for the near future, two nights is probably what we could handle,” Bloys said, noting the resources for programming and marketing such a ramp-up would involve. “I don’t see a third night on the horizon.”
HBO plans to do around 160-165 hours of original programming in 2020, up from 150 this year. The slow expansion allows to “keep the quality for the rest of 2019, 20 and even into 21,” he said.
Peter White contributed to this report.