Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have confirmed that the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will only have six episodes.
The seventh season debuts on 16 July in the US on HBO and will consist of seven episodes. Weiss and Benioff said last year that they had planned to finish the series in just thirteen more episodes after the explosive finale to Season 6. HBO had refused to confirm that, hoping that the producers could be talked into making more episodes. Clearly that effort has failed.
The final two seasons have the same budget as the sixth ($100 million), bringing the per-episode budget of the series up to $14,280,000. In Season 8 this will increase to $16,660,000 per episode (a massive five times the budget of an episode of The Walking Dead, for comparison). Game of Thrones is, easily, the most expensive ongoing TV show in television history.
The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will begin production towards the end of this year and will air in summer 2018. HBO are in early discussions with George R.R. Martin about making a possible spin-off series to replace it, but have not announced any firm plans. Such a series will not involve Benioff or Weiss, who have a movie development deal with Fox Studios.