History may not be the first name most viewers think of when it comes to riveting scripted series. However, in recent years the cable network - which, as its name suggests, largely focuses on non-fiction programming - has found a consistent hit in Vikings.
The historical drama - created and written by Michael Hirst (The Tudors) - follows the Norse explorers of early medieval Scandinavia. The series continues to be a major ratings draw, having brought in 4.3 million viewers total (on average) for the first five episodes of the ongoing season three. Now the network has demonstrated even more faith in the show's continuing ability to thrive - by having officially renewed it for another season.
Production on Vikings season 4 is set to begin this spring in Ireland (presumably for an early 2016 premiere), while its third season will wrap up in about a month, on April 23rd. History & H2 EVP and General Manager Dirk Hoogstra issues the following statement, to go along with the announce of Vikings' season four renewal:
“VIKINGS has raided the hearts of both audiences and critics, establishing itself as one of the most compelling, visually stunning dramas on television. We are so proud of our immensely talented cast and crew led by Michael Hirst, whose intriguing storylines and pivotal arcs have the perfect balance of scope, smarts and bloodshed to keep our loyal fans watching and wanting more.”
Vikings has indeed demonstrated a consistent fanbase and gives the History channel a buzz-worthy series to help boost its profile - now, as a coveted destination for original scripted material. With shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad having elevated AMC from a network that focused on re-airing classic films to one of the top players in basic cable, Vikings could be an essential step in accomplishing a similar feat for History.
The show's look and tone can be at least somewhat attributed to the success of shows like Game of Thrones, but History is covering a bit of new ground story-wise with its focus on the early Viking society. The show's focus on telling tales inspired by the sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) brings an approach that most viewers are unaware of - and offers a more grounded take on mythology that is probably best known for its more fantastical portrayals.
Vikings' third season has already featured its fair shared of intriguing story twists and turns, as well as shocking developments (similar to Game of Thrones in that sense). Still, the show's audience can take comfort in knowing that the adventure will continue on after the season finale airs next month. Needless to say, History's renewal of the series for another season is a smart business move - and we're betting it's one that will continue to pay off.
Vikings airs Thursdays at 10/9c on History.