The hit television show Games of Thrones has been renewed for two more seasons, two days after its latest series opened with a bang that crashed the US broadcaster’s online app.
Sunday’s fourth season debut drew 6.6 million viewers in the US, the most for the HBO pay-channel since the finale of cult hit The Sopranos was watched by 11.9 million people in 2007.
In Australia, the show attracted more than 270,000 viewers in two sittings on Monday, making it one of the most popular non-sport shows ever on Foxtel.
“Game of Thrones’ is a phenomenon like no other,” said HBO Programming boss Michael Lombardo, announcing that HBO had renewed it for a fifth and sixth season.
Its 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,” he said.
HBO Go, an online app that allows viewers to watch shows any time, crashed on Sunday as tens of thousands tried to log on to watch the show, which provides a jaw-dropping mix of sex, violence and vengeance.
Since its debut in 2011, the HBO drama based on George R R Martin’s best-selling novels about a struggle for power between feuding clans in seven mythical kingdoms has won a devoted global fan base – President Barack Obama reportedly among them – to establish itself as the star of the US cable channel’s stable.
The series has wowed critics with its densely-layered plot, lavish production values and a readiness to kill off, invariably in gruesome fashion, protagonists who had hitherto seemed integral to the show.
Four words – “No one is safe” – have become the unofficial catchphrase for devotees of the series. Guessing which character may soon meet his or her maker is all part of the fun.
All the signs are that fans of the show will not be disappointed by the 10-episode Season 4, which debuted in the US before being screened in different markets worldwide.