“Orange Is the New Black” is officially back, and slightly ahead of schedule, too. Netflix released all 13 episodes of the popular show's Season 3 shortly after 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, about six hours ahead of the scheduled release of midnight Pacific Time Friday. The company confirmed the news via Twitter.



Uzo Aduba, an actor in the series, which tells the story of a young privileged woman serving prison time, tipped off fans with a tweet of her own just minutes before:



The surprise release was a highlight of OrangeCon, an event for fans of the show in New York. It was announced the moment when fans were supposed to receive merely a peek at the upcoming season, Variety reported. Instead of offering the preview, however, Reed Hastings, head of Netflix, announced (over video) the early release.



The first season of “Orange Is the New Black,” or OitNB, was released on Netflix in 2013. Initially a relatively low-profile show unique for its content, plot and focus -- in it, a young white woman from a wealthy family does time in prison -- it has become wildly popular. It's based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, "Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison." A fourth season of the series is already planned and is scheduled for release in 2016.