House of the Dragon has HBO’s biggest series debut ever with 10 million views. Based on Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s faux historical account of House Targaryen in the novel Fire & Blood, House of the Dragon is a prequel to the original show, taking place roughly 200 years earlier. Showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik oversee an all-star cast for the series, which includes Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Milly Alcock, Graham McTavish, and Rhys Ifans.
HBO has been plotting various Game of Thrones spinoffs since before the main series ended, and House of the Dragon is the first to make it all the way to the small screen. Ahead of its debut, there was much debate over whether the prequel series would have the same impact as its predecessor. Game of Thrones once stood as the biggest television show in the world, yet overall reception to its final season skewed heavily negative. As a result, it wasn’t clear if that would turn some viewers off of House of the Dragon. Based on the early numbers, it hasn’t in the slightest.
HBO is now reporting that House of the Dragon pulled in 9.986 million viewers across linear and streaming platforms in its Sunday night debut, which is roughly 8 million more viewers than the original Game of Thrones had when it debuted in 2011 with 2.22 million viewers. Despite a number of reported outages and issues for some viewers using specific apps, House of the Dragon still managed to crush its debut. The show has received strong word of mouth and critical reviews while dominating social media platforms ahead of and during its premiere. Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer at HBO & HBO Max commented on the historical debut for the network, saying:
It was wonderful to see millions of ‘Game of Thrones’ fans return with us to Westeros last night. ‘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 George, Ryan, and Miguel have in store for them this season.
House of the Dragon season 1 will comprise 10 episodes in total, with more seasons surely to follow that will likely cover the current storyline for three-to-four seasons. The showrunners have said that House of the Dragon could serve as a launching point for earlier or later stories in Targaryen history, although they say there is a planned ending in mind for the current narrative arc. With such a massive debut and interest in the Game of Thrones universe reawakened, House of the Dragon could potentially run as long as the original series, if not longer, especially given the scope of Martin’s book, which spans 300 years before Game of Thrones. This is assuming interest holds up after the premiere; the big numbers could be because of curiosity. Now House of the Dragon needs to hold onto that audience.
It’s only been three years since Game of Thrones dominated the cable/streaming airwaves, and House of the Dragon has now proven that the brand is stronger than ever. While many Game of Thrones fans were disappointed by the series finale, there’s still plenty of love for the rest of the universe, which captured the zeitgeist throughout its 8-season run. It will be interesting to see if House of the Dragon maintains this level of viewership throughout the first season, as it will break even more HBO records if it does and likely put more Game of Thrones spinoffs on the fast track to keep the momentum.
House of the Dragon releases new episodes Sundays on HBO.