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The After Effect

HBOAt first I thought my cable went out – no really – I mean it wouldn’t be the first time that my Time Warner Cable failed at an incredibly important moment (it went out right before the first pitch of Opening Night baseball earlier this year) but to go out right as Tony Soprano bid his farewell, come on! Well, I guess like many of you once I realized that my cable was working quite fine – I just scratched my head and wondered what had just happened.

In a quest to find out what that cut to black was really all about – I did what just about every other twenty-first century American must have done – I went to HBO.com. Well, it looks like HBO was the one who really took the hit (did Tony too?) as their website crashed and couldn’t even handle the amount of traffic visiting the virtual home for The Sopranos.

Now, granted, the network and the show’s creator David Chase, were in a precarious position; if they killed off all of the show’s characters that may have been very cliché, and of course that would have prevented any possibility of a movie or a series of moves in the future. But by taking the artistic, or as some online have called it “the thinking man’s approach,” HBO kept the suspense level high, the gates of opportunity open, and left many of us wondering just exactly "What Happened?

Well, while I’m still figuring out what exactly happened to Tony, in terms of business I think that this finale was pivotal for HBO. In essence, HBO and its programming took one step forward, and two steps backward with the end of The Sopranos. While they served up an intriguing ending to one of the talked about series since Seinfeld, they also left many people disappointed after eight years, and in a sense unfulfilled. At the same time, the network announced or previewed the launch of several new series, which will now debut on the network in the coming weeks and months.

The question now is whether that disappointment will translate into significantly fewer HBO subscribers and what’s the future look like for HBO? Well, there’s no secret that I’ve written previously about HBO’s intelligent strategy, in which this show played an instrumental role, so now with The Soprano’s off the air, will audiences who have invested both time and money since the show debuted in 1999 feel compelled to stay, or will they also go dark?

The Bottom Line:
Look for HBO to experience a short-term drop in subscribers, and some negative backlash for the artistic demise of America’s favorite mob family. However, with new programs set to begin airing, and the coveted 9PM on Sunday time-slot up for grabs, I expect HBO’s genius to continue to live on under a different brand name in the not too distant future.

What do you think – Is Tony dead? Will we see The Sopranos on the silver screen? Share with us your thoughts on The Sopranos by e-mailing us at tips AT mediabackpage DOT com.

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