HBO’s “House of the Dragon” soared well above expectations, marking the largest audience for an original series premiere in the cable giant’s history.
Nearly 10 million viewers in the U.S. tuned into the opening episode of the “Game of Thrones” prequel on Sunday, according to Warner Bros. Discovery, which noted that night-of ratings typically only represent 20 to 40 percent of the show’s total gross audience.
The network said 9.986 million viewers caught the series premiere across HBO and its streaming platform, HBO Max. That viewership towered above HBO’s other recent launches, including the second season of “Euphoria,” which drew 2.2 million viewers, and “Succession,” which opened with 1.4 million viewers for its season three debut.
“It was wonderful to see millions of Game of Thrones fans return with us to Westeros last night,” Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, said in a news release. “House of the Dragon features an incredibly talented cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into the production, and we’re ecstatic with viewers’ positive response. We look forward to sharing with audiences what else [author George R.R. Martin and showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik] have in store for them this season.”
“Game of Thrones,” which pulled in 2.22 million viewers for its pilot episode in 2011, also experienced a major ratings upswing, capping off its strongest week on HBO Max to date, according to the network. Viewership is nearly 90 percent above last month on the heels of a seven-week stretch of week-over-week growth.
The long-awaited return to Westeros also proved to be hit across social media, as the “House of the Dragon” became a trending Twitter topic for 14 hours straight, as well as topping Google Trends, per the press release.
The ratings success for “House of the Dragon” comes at a turning point for HBO and HBO Max, as it plans to merge with Discovery+ into a single streaming platform next year. The pending merge has resulted in HBO Max purging a host of original series and films from its library, drawing significant ire from both fans and creatives behind the projects.
As the first major launch after the formation of Warner Bros. Discovery, the company took no chances on “House of the Dragon,” pouring millions of dollars ― a Deadline report puts the figure north of $100 million ― into marketing. The prequel series reportedly cost under $20 million per episode to produce for the 10-episode first season.
“House of the Dragon” is set hundreds of years before the events of “Thrones” and based on Martin’s 2018 novel, “Fire & Blood.” It chronicles the events leading up to a civil war that tears the ruling House of Targaryen apart.
The series, which is co-created by Martin and overseen by showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, stars Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Paddy Considine, Emily Carey, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, and Sonoya Mizuno, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke.
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