History has found the key to the audience's heart lies with looting and pillaging. And so the channel has given a green light to a third season of its dramatic series "Vikings."

The Irish-Canadian co-production stars Travis Fimmel as the ambitious Viking chieftain Ragnar, whose desire to conquer new lands drives him to achieve great success in his medieval Scandinavian society. The second season has followed Ragnar's life as he has moved up to the status of an earl in the Viking world.

The series was created by Michael Hirst, who also created Showtime's series "The Tudors." When "Vikings" premiered in 2013, it was History's first scripted drama series.

The show's second season is not half over, but ratings have been strong enough for History to move on a third season, which will film this summer for a 2015 air date. The series has averaged 3.4 million total viewers in its second season, and it's the top-rated cable program in its Thursday night time slot.

Big ratings gains for 'Downton,' 'Sherlock'

PBS has become a Sunday night ratings force with "Downton Abbey" and "Sherlock."

The most recent seasons of the British dramas were their highest-rated yet, according to final numbers released Wednesday by PBS outlet WGBH-TV.

Season 4 of "Downton" - detailing the life of a fictional aristocratic family and its servants a century ago - averaged 13.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen - up 15 percent compared with the previous season.

The third season of "Sherlock" - a modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle - averaged 6.6 million, for a whopping 50 percent gain compared with Season 2.