Speed Reads

the prequel that was promised

Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon sets viewership record for HBO

Game of Thrones' first prequel is bringing the house down on HBO. 

House of the Dragon, a spinoff of Game of Thrones set about 200 years before the original series, brought in an impressive 9.9 million viewers for its premiere episode on Sunday night, HBO says. 

That's the largest audience for the debut episode of a new series in the network's history. For comparison, Thrones' 2019 series finale drew about 19 million viewers across multiple platforms. 

Based on George R.R. Martin's Fire & BloodHouse of the Dragon follows members of House Targaryen, ancestors of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), and their civil war over dueling succession claims. It retains much of the iconic imagery that defined the original fantasy series and even its memorable theme, but with some notable differences, including the fact that it's more focused on a single central storyline. No actors from Game of Thrones return. 

HBO's hope has been for House of the Dragon to be the first of numerous Thrones spinoffs, giving the network a reliable, ongoing franchise akin to Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+. But there had been some debate about whether viewers would flock back to Westeros, given the ending of Thrones left many fans unsatisfied in 2019. 

Clearly, that wasn't an issue, and it helps that the fan response to House of the Dragon has thus far been significantly more positive than Thrones' final season. If these numbers hold, HBO's plans to dramatically expand the Thrones franchise will likely continue full steam ahead. And after the ending of Thrones sparked years of questions about what the "next Game of Thrones" level watercool series might be, it appears we have our answer.