There’s not much we know about the final season of Game of Thrones: there will be eight new characters, one battle took 55 nights to shoot, each of the six episodes could be as long as 90 minutes, and it's coming sometime in 2019. With the amount of anticipation currently surrounding season 8, any crumb of news would be enough to hold over fans for quite some time. 

Per Deadline, at a Television Critics Association panel, HBO head of programming Casey Bloys has finally provided such a crumb: season 8 will premiere in the “first half” of 2019. This new detail is, admittedly, not very revelatory, but it’s as specific as HBO has been willing to get about the release date at least officially. 

Toward the beginning of this year, it appeared Maisie Williams had let it slip the series would return in April 2019. That timeline checked out with the release date of previous Game of Thrones seasons, which all came around April or late March, save for season 7, which began in July 2017. Days after the world went wild with the news, Williams took to Twitter to kill that rumor, saying she'd given the interview years prior.

In addition, Bloys revealed HBO is forging ahead with only one of the five different Game of Thrones spinoffs the studio explored. The studio went with Jane Goldman’s prequel script; she will also act as showrunner and executive producer, alongside A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin himself. 

HBO ordered a pilot for the untitled prequel last month, the logline reading: "The series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.”

Bloys hopes shooting will begin sometime next year, but he has said previously that it won’t air until at least a year after Game of Thrones officially ends. “We’d be lucky to get one that we’re very, very excited about, and we did get that,” he said. He said they have begun the search for a director, but still need to embark on casting. One detail: none of the actors who currently appear on Game of Thrones will also appear in the prequel.