House of the Dragon slays Game of Thrones pilot numbers, becomes biggest series premiere in HBO history

House of the Dragon slays Game of Thrones pilot numbers, becomes biggest series premiere in HBO history

Well, it's official: House of the Dragon has tapped into the ratings magic of Game of Thrones.

HBO reports House of the Dragon drew in an audience of 9.986 million viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms in the U.S. for its premiere episode, which dropped on Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.

That means the Game of Thrones prequel has the largest series premiere in HBO history, including Game of Thrones, which had a 2.22 million viewership for its pilot episode back in 2011. House of the Dragon now also has the largest series launch on HBO Max across the U.S., Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

"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," Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer at HBO and HBO Max, said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing with audiences what else George, Ryan, and Miguel have in store for them this season." Thrones creator and author George R.R. Martin is credited as co-creator of House of the Dragon with Ryan Condal, the latter serving as co-showrunner with Miguel Sapochnik.

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon

HBO Caraxes, the dragon of Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), emerges on 'House of the Dragon.'

Samba TV, a third-party television and streaming analytics company, had earlier released its own stats for House of the Dragon, stating the show had the biggest TV premiere of any premium cable or streaming show in 2022 so far. According to the organization's numbers, 2.6 million U.S. households tuned into the premiere during its initial six hours of viewership, which was between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. ET on both traditional linear TV viewing and streaming.

"HBO has once again tapped into the magic of Game of Thrones with its spinoff series, House of the Dragon," a statement from Samba TV reads. "Diehard GoT fans eagerly anticipated more from the franchise, and they turned out in force for House of the Dragon, with the HBO program generating the biggest single-day premium cable or streaming viewership premiere in 2022. More than doubling the initial same-day viewership of Netflix's season 4 premiere of Stranger Things, the Game of Thrones prequel recaptured the fire of HBO's original masterpiece in a big way. The next challenge, and the real opportunity for HBO in the coming weeks, is to expand viewership beyond the passionate built-in fan base. Just as Stranger Things' most recent season 4, Volume 2 drop surpassed its Volume 1 audience, HBO must look to innovative marketing that drives incremental audience growth to break through today's saturated content marketplace."

House of the Dragon still has a ways to go before it reaches the ratings heights of Game of Thrones in its prime. The original show only kept building its audience with time on the backs of word of mouth and high critical praise. When HBO dropped the series finale in 2019, the episode brought in 19.3 million viewers, including streaming numbers.

But this makes a season 2 renewal announcement for House of the Dragon seem even more likely. Despite confidence in the show's concept, reports suggested executives at Warner Bros. Discovery were waiting to see how the fantasy drama performed before formally greenlighting more episodes. It's certainly off to a good start.

House of the Dragon tells of the events leading up to and during the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war that broke out within the Targaryen dynasty hundreds of years before the events of HBO's Game of Thrones.

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, first played by Milly Alcock in the character's youth, is named the heir to the Iron Throne by her father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), ticking off the deeply patriarchal society. When Viserys then conceives a son later in life, Westeros is split in two over the matter of succession, prompting one of the bloodiest conflicts the country has ever seen.

Emily Carey, Matt Smith, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, and Sonoya Mizuno also play important parts on House of the Dragon. Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke will make their debuts later on in the series as adult versions of Rhaenyra and Rhaenyra's childhood best friend Alicent Hightower, the latter of which is currently portrayed by Carey as a teen.

Subscribe to EW's West of Westeros podcast, which goes behind the making of House of the Dragon and the growing Game of Thrones universe.

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