TV critics questioned HBO’s top programming executive about fan reaction to the final season of Game of Thrones during a press conference Wednesday.

At the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., the cable network’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, was asked about blowback to the fantasy drama’s final six episodes, which aired this spring — including that online fan petition urging the network to remake season 8. (The petition garnered 1.7 million signatures.)

“There are very few downsides to having a hugely popular show,” Bloys said. “One I can think of, when you try to end it, many people have opinions on how to end it. I think that comes with the territory. The petition shows a lot of enthusiasm and passion for the show, but it wasn’t something we seriously considered. I can’t imagine another network would.”

Credit: HBO

The final season of GoT received an unprecedented amount of criticism for the otherwise acclaimed drama.

Bloys was also asked about the network’s decision to submit and promote its seven lead actors for Emmys — but not other costars, such as Gwendoline Christie and Alfie Allen, who submitted themselves and were recently nominated.

GoT is unique because it has 27 series regulars — which is unusual,” he said. “We have someone who has worked at HBO who is an expert in awards; she will work with showrunners to figure out what the best chance of success. It’s a challenge for a series that big if everybody submitted themselves, everybody could cancel [each other out]. There is some strategic thinking… if someone decides to submit on their own, we will help them and their reps.”

All told, GoT received a record 32 Emmy nominations for season 8 despite the criticism. The final season averaged more than 44 million U.S. viewers, according to HBO.

Bloys was also asked how involved HBO was in the final season. “When a show is in the six, seven, eight [seasons of a] highly successful run, by that point there is a rhythm between showrunners and network, a minimal back-and-forth here and there. That’s not just GoT. Silicon Valley is doing their final season, they have a really good handle on what the show is and what the end will look like. It’s not like we are all over them.”

In addition, the executive revealed that filming has wrapped on the mysterious GoT prequel pilot. For the latest on the prequel, read our recent interview with author George R.R. Martin. — Lynette Rice contributed to this report

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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