HBO has officially announced that season seven of Game of Thrones will make a summer debut on the pay channel and across all of its digital platforms in 2017. Starting later than its usual spring arrival and will include only seven episodes as opposed to the traditional 10. The move is being made in order to accommodate a shooting schedule that requires colder winter weather.

The possibility of a late start to season seven was already anticipated based upon prior comments made by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

"We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, 'Winter is here' — and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes any more. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim gray weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot," stated Benioff and Weiss. In the past, the show usually begins shooting in July.

"[E]xecutive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing," said Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming.

"Instead of the show's traditional spring debut, we're moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule," Bloys added.

Producers of the show have in fact previously stated their intentions to wrap up the series in season eight, and had teased the possibility of two truncated seasons that would wrap the show up at the 73-hour mark. The announcement that season seven would now consist of only seven episodes appears to confirm that the plan is still on track, in which case the final season would consist of six episodes, if the producers stick to their guns.

HBO has not officially commented at all on season eight as of yet, but has announced that directors Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod and Matt Shakman will be at the helm for season seven.

Game of Thrones is HBO's most popular show, having averaged a whopping 23 million viewers for season six across all platforms, which include initial showings on the pay channel itself, plus repeats and DVR views as well as streaming on HBO's two digital services, HBO GO and HBO Now. The show also claims the dubious distinction of being the most pirated series on record, with the pay channel having taken extreme, but largely ineffective measures this year to cut back on illegal file sharing of episodes.

Game of Thrones was also just nominated for 23 Emmys for season six. Now that the premiere of season seven has been pushed back to summer 2017, the show is not expected to be eligible for next year's Emmys, as it will have missed the deadline. That's good news for some of HBO's primetime competitors who will now have more opportunities to grab nominations that otherwise would have gone to Game of Thrones.

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