Sunday night’s third season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones can’t be called anything but a success. Critics have been close to unanimous of their praise of the episode, titled “Valar Dohaeris,” it drew boffo ratings both legally and illegally, and- least surprising of all- HBO has renewed the series for a fourth season.
The episode- despite airing head-to-head with the also highly-rated season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead– drew 4.4 million viewers, a four percent gain over its previous high and a 13 percent rise from the previous season premiere, Deadline reported.
The premiere wasn’t only a ratings success on HBO. The blog Torrentfreak reported that the episode was downloaded over a million times as of Monday, setting a new record for “the largest BitTorrent swarm ever.”
After that, the renewal was merely a formality, but HBO made it official Tuesday.