HBO is doubling down on Game of Thrones.
HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told a handful of reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that the premium cable network is near a deal for another two-season renewal for the fantasy drama based on the books by George R.R. Martin.
The renewal would be for seasons seven and eight — marking the second time that Game of Thrones has scored the dual order. The cabler last renewed the Emmy-winning drama for seasons five and six in 2014. The news comes hours after HBO announced an April 24 return date for its sixth season.
A formal announcement is expected to come soon, though it’s unclear if season eight of the series will be its last.
For the cast, the news comes after the stars in October 2014 signed on for the yet-to-be officially announced seventh season with hefty pay raises. The principal Game of Thrones actors were signed only through six seasons of the show. In exchange for the option, HBO ponied up huge raises for seasons five, six and the potential season seven that will make the castmembers among the highest-paid actors on cable TV. An HBO rep declined to comment on the renegotiation or the season seven options.
Game of Thrones ranks as HBO’s most-watched series ever and is the premium outlet’s longest-running show currently on the air.
Season six of the drama will be the show’s first to surpass the plot points included in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. The author recently revealed that the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, will not be finished before the show returns for season six.
For HBO, securing the future of Thrones was a key priority. The network next has music drama Vinyl due Feb. 14, fantasy drama Westworld from Warner Bros. Television due later this year and a drama slate that also consists of the third and final season of critical darling The Leftovers. It’s unclear if anthology True Detective will go on to a third season.