Apparently 6.6 million viewers for a premiere episode–8.2 if you count the endless reruns deep into Monday morning!–is what it takes for HBO to greenlight more than one season at a time.
HBO has renewed GAME OF THRONES for a fifth and sixth season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.
“GAME OF THRONES is a phenomenon like no other,” noted Lombardo. “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.”
The season four premiere of GAME OF THRONES on Sunday, April 6 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) was watched by an average of 6.6 million viewers, making it HBO’s most-watched program since the finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007 (11.9 million viewers). The premiere improved 52% over last season’s premiere and 23% over last season’s finale.
For the record, GoT did not steadily gain viewers over the third season, peaking only at episode 6 before declining steadily until the end of the season (The Rains of Castamere was off by about a million viewers on first air.) I assume that the fact that we are not waiting all the way until episode nine for the big deaths to start will help. In fact, the Unspoiled will get a nice juicy one next week, followed by the overarching plot revolving around the murder and the trial that follows (Think Law and Order: Kings Landing.) This suggests the season may hold steady, if not gain viewers throughout the run. Everyone loves L&O, after all.
No word if in addition to greenlighting these seasons they’ve chained Martin to a desk to continue to churn out content. Perhaps they’ve accepted the TV show will be overtaking the books no matter what at this point. Or else they’re really planning on seven seasons and a movie….