Despite glitches for some people trying to watch via Fire TV Sticks, HBO announced that the first episode of its Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon recorded the network’s biggest premiere of all time, recording 9.986 million viewers across linear and HBO Max streaming on Sunday night in the US alone.
The original Game of Thrones series closed out its run with 13.7 million live viewers on linear channels for the finale in 2019, clocking over 19 million views with the addition of streaming and video-on-demand numbers. According to HBO, ahead of the Dragon premiere, interest in the original series — with the entire series now available for streaming in 4K on HBO Max — spiked, drawing a weekly average in streaming for August that was up 90 percent in July.
Now there appears to be an answer to the question of whether viewers were still interested in the series after the previous show’s final season and with so many people changing their viewing habits to streaming over cable in the last two years. HBO chief content officer Casey Bloys said in a statement that “[i]t 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.”
While it’s hard to compare the numbers exactly, they are notable for HBO and HBO Max and come following a couple of weeks of bewildering choices by its new corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery. Recently, execs tossed the intended-for-HBO Max Batgirl movie into the vault, dropped many shows from streaming, including some beloved animated titles, and yanked hundreds of episodes of Sesame Street from HBO Max.
It’s also facing competition in the swords-and-sorcery subgenre as Amazon’s Prime Video service launches its own high-priced epic on September 2nd when The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres. The Lord of the Rings series will launch at 9PM ET on a Thursday night with two episodes, then roll out one episode every week at midnight (ET) on Friday mornings through the finale episode set for release on October 14th. New episodes of House of the Dragon will pop up every Sunday night at 9PM ET until its first season ends on October 23rd.