HBO has renewed its hit fantasy series Game of Thrones for a fourth season.
The renewal, which was announced Tuesday by the network’s president, Michael Lombardo, comes shortly after the season three premiere, which brought in a record number of viewers for its 9 pm airing and its three replays the rest of the night. At 9 pm, the episode averaged a series high of 4.4 million viewers; across the three replays, 6.7 million viewers tuned in for the premiere. Seasons 1 and 2 premiered to 2.22 and 3.86 million viewers respectively, and the season 2 premiere drew 6.3 million viewers for the night.
HBO has ordered a 10-episode fourth season that will premiere next year. Details haven’t been announced yet, but it is expected to draw heavily from the back half of George R.R. Martin’s third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, A Storm of Swords. The fourth season will also draw content from other novels in the series.
The fantasy drama costs nearly $60 million to produce per season, but that cost is offset by international and DVD sales.
Game of Thrones was the most illegally downloaded TV series in 2012, and Lombardo said he took it as “a compliment of sorts.” He added, “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
The network isn’t condoning piracy, of course, but they aren’t going to go after individual downloaders. The main concern is when people start trying to sell pirated HBO programming.
Are you excited for a fourth season of Game of Thrones?