HBO's newest epic, Game of Thrones, lured nearly 5 million viewers into its magical realm on Sunday night. That gave the cable network for people who think they're too smart for regular TV an opportunity to play its favorite game: the instant series renewal.

Yes, after only one episode, the hugely expensive drama (season one cost about $50 million) has already been given the greenlight for season two. It's nice that HBO has confidence in its offerings, but what this really shows is that it should have confidence in its marketing department. The only things these ratings prove is that people are curious and want to watch this thing that's gotten so much hype.

HBO's gamble 10 days after True Blood's lackluster debut eventually paid off with a huge audience. But HBO's swift pickup of Boardwalk Empire after only a day wasn't quite as prescient: The show went on to lose nearly half its audience between the first episode and the last. Might the same thing happen to Thrones? Will both these costly shows end up having disastrous, low-rated second seasons? Guess we'll have to wait and see, something that HBO doesn't seem to bother with anymore.

[Photo via HBO]