The least surprising item on today’s list of television news stories is that HBO has renewed Game of Thrones for a fourth season, following the season 3 premiere, “Valar Dohaeris”, which enjoyed series-record viewership.

Indeed, this current season only covers the first half of “A Storm of Swords” – the third installment in George R.R. Martin’s popular “A Song of Ice and Fire” literature – hence, a fourth season to finish that book (and continue forward) was something planned from the very beginning.

Co-showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have revealed their intention to continue on for eight seasons, which (as the theory goes) would allow them to properly adapt Martin’s magnum opus on the small screen – and, in the process, delivering all the low-medievel fantasy, bloody conflict, emotional warfare, political intrigue, and epic struggle between the forces of darkness and light one could want.

There’s also been talk about developing a prequel series, based on the series of Westeros novellas crafted by Martin. Such a spinoff could compliment the central developments in Game of Thrones and help those unfamiliar with the source novels catch up on the backstory for various characters and settings; not to mention, of course, keeping this cash cow alive and thriving for HBO. More important to fans, is the matter of how it could provide Martin enough time to finish the last two “Ice and Fire” books (before the show catches and surpasses his progress, that is).

game of thrones season 3 episode photo 68 570x278 Game of Thrones Renewed for Season 4 After Record Breaking S3 Premiere

However, most of the matters discussed above remain just that at this stage: talk, no more or less. It won’t be long before we have a more definite idea about what is and isn’t happening, in terms of the future for Game of Thrones.

In the meantime, we have more pressing matters to deal with – like watching the battle for control over the Iron Throne rage on. One game at a time, my friend…

Here is the official HBO press release confirming the fourth season on Game of Thrones:

HBO has renewed GAME OF THRONES for a fourth season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.

Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, GAME OF THRONES is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal. The Emmy®- and Golden Globe-winning series launched its ten-episode third season Sunday, March 31 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, with other episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time.

Among the early critical praise for the third season, the Hollywood Reporter called GAME OF THRONES “addictive and outstanding,” while Newsday termed the series “superb,” awarding the show an A+. The Chicago Tribune hailed the show as “spellbinding” and the Washington Post described it as “masterful.”

According to early data, GAME OF THRONES’ season three premiere March 31 on HBO topped the series’ highs, with record viewership for both the 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) airing and gross audience across the three plays. At 9:00 p.m., it averaged 4.4 million viewers, outperforming (+4%) the previous high of 4.2 million viewers from last season’s finale. GAMES OF THRONES improved 13% in comparison to last season’s premiere of 3.9 million viewers. Across the three plays for the night, 6.7 million viewers tuned in, surpassing last season’s debut night of 6.3 million viewers by 7%. Last season, GAME OF THRONES had an average gross audience (HBO linear plays + HBO On Demand/HBO GO + DVR) of 11.6 million viewers.

Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with “Dark Wings, Dark Words” @9pm on HBO.

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