As if HBO didn’t already trust the loyalty of its Westeros-loving viewership, the season 3 premiere of ‘Game of Thrones‘ aired with the highest ratings of the series’ run, averaging 4.4 million viewers for the first airing, and a total of 6.7 million viewers across the night’s three airings.

Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming, has just announced a confirmed fourth season for the ‘Game of Thrones’ series, based upon the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books written by George R.R. Martin.

Lombardo came under a bit of fire recently for admitting to Entertainment Weekly that the show’s overwhelming popularity in the pirating community was not necessarily a bad thing. “I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” he told reporters. “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”

Many fans of the series without access to HBO have lamented the viewing options, saying they would gladly pay to watch it immediately or even months afterwards on iTunes, Amazon, or some sort of on-demand single-show HBO service. Unfortunately, with viewerships in other countries, there likely remains a lot of legal red-tape for HBO, and it’s not looking like it will be a priority any time soon.

The news of the fourth season pickup is very welcome to fans, however. This current season comprises only the first half of George R.R. Martin’s book ‘A Storm of Swords,’ which will assumedly end on a cliffhanger, so it’s good to know that as many loose ends as possible will be tied up, with hopefully many more seasons to come.

‘Game of Thrones’ airs on Sunday nights on HBO.