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'Game of Thrones' wins a fourth season

A scene from the HBO series

A scene from the HBO series "Game of Thrones." Credit: HBO

"Game of Thrones" -- pound for pound, word for word, dragon for dragon probably the best show on TV right now -- just picked up a fourth season. No surprise, and fans would have stormed Kings Landing, er, HBO headquarters, if it had not been picked up for a fourth because the third will cover only half of "A Storm of Swords;" the fourth season is expected to wrap that book.

Here's the HBO release:

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 10-episode third season Sunday, March 31 (9-10 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 p.m. (ET/PT) airing and gross audience across the three plays.

At 9 p.m., it averaged 4.4 million viewers, outperforming (+4%) the previous high of 4.2 million viewers from last season’s finale. "Game 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.   

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