HBO has renewed Game of Thrones for TWO more seasons, carrying the epic fantasy series forwards to a sixth year. Whilst a fifth season was pretty much a done deal, the news that the show would be renewed for two years at once - something HBO has never formally done before for one of its big-budget drama series - came as a surprise.
Season 4's debut episode Two Swords, aired to 6.64 million viewers for a first-run audience, setting a new record for the show (triple the figure that tuned in for the first episode three years ago). Including the repeats, more than 8 million people watched on the first night. Consolidated figures, including viewings on HBO Go and further repeats, are expected to take the show up to around 14 million, rivalling the best figures achieved by HBO's biggest domestic hit, The Sopranos (Game of Thrones is already, by a very wide margin, HBO's most popular show ever outside the USA).
The fifth season is expected to cover most or all of the fourth and fifth books of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Season 6 will almost certainly carry the show into material from the as-yet-unpublished sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.