HBO renews 'Big Love'

Network orders fourth season of polygamy drama

HBO has given a fourth-season pickup to relationship drama "Big Love," from executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

"The stellar reviews and solid viewership this season confirm that this is a signature series for HBO," said Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO. "The series keeps getting better and better."

Although "Love" got off to a sluggish start in the ratings this season, each episode has added viewers. Sunday's outing drew 1.5 million viewers, up 29% from its January season premiere despite competition from the Super Bowl. Combined with encore episodes, the series averages about 5 million viewers.

Also, critics have been effusive about this season, which is always a factor for a subscription service like HBO that relies on generating a public perception of exclusive, high-quality content.

Production will begin later this year for a 2010 release. The show is executive produced by Playtone's Hanks and Goetzman and series creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer.