HBO isn’t “dragon” its feet on a Game of Thrones renewal.
The premium cable network on Tuesday announced it has committed to a fifth and sixth season of the hit series, news that arrives on the heels of Thrones’ triumphant Sunday night return.
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the Season 4 premiere averaged a towering 6.64 million viewers and a 3.6 in the adults 18-49 demo, making it the most-watched episode in GOT history and HBO’s biggest single telecast since the June 10, 2007 finale of The Sopranos (11.9 million). Thrones also was the single highest-rated show on television Sunday night, which means that broadcasters who were happy to see The Walking Dead stagger off for the next six months are unlikely to get much in the way of a respite after all.
“Game of Thrones is a phenomenon like no other,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo, by way of announcing the renewal. “[Showrunners and co-creators] David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling.”
Based on George R. R. Martin’s novel cycle, A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and roughly three dozen other regulars. The current season is based on the latter half of the 973-page A Storm of Swords, the third book in Martin’s projected seven-tome series.
The 65-year-old Martin is often pestered by fan boys who object to his deliberate publishing schedule. (There was a five-year gap between the release of Book No. 4, A Feast for Crows, and No. 5, A Dance with Dragons. Then again, Dragons is 1,040 pages in length. Cut the guy some slack—not everyone can pump out verbiage a la Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates.)
For all that, the most melodic plea for Martin to pick up the pace remains Dinosaur Feathers’ 2011 song, “Please, Please George,” which includes the motivational couplet: “I know you’re just one man/But you’ve gotta finish what you began!” (In a sense, this functions as the answer song to John Anealio’s 2010 track, “George R. R. Martin Is Not Your Bitch.”)
An all-new episode of Game of Thrones will air on Sunday, April 13, at 9 p.m. EDT.