Expectations were high when HBO announced that a Game of Thrones prequel would be coming to its platforms. Now that the series premiere of House of the Dragon has aired, the hype around the new show might be bigger than previously thought.
The first episode garnered 9.99 million viewers across HBO's linear platform and from its streaming HBO Max service. That marks the largest audience draw for a new show in the network's history, much of which came before streaming programming.
In comparison, Game of Thrones, which continues to be the network's most successful show, drew just 4.2 million viewers for its premiere episode in 2011. Television insights company SambaTV noted that based on its tracking, Dragons even beat out the premiere episode of Netflix's Stranger Things: Season 4, which broke its same-day viewership record earlier this summer.
The show also had social media users buzzing. Deadline reported that the show was Twitter's leading trending topic for 14 hours and it reached No. 1 on Google Trends.
"Diehard GoT fans have been eagerly anticipating more from the franchise and they turned out in force for House of the Dragon," Ashwin Navin, co-founder and CEO of SambaTV said in a statement reported by Deadline. "The next challenge, and the real opportunity for HBO in the coming weeks, is to expand viewership beyond the passionate built-in fan base."
The initial success of House of the Dragon couldn't be more timely for HBO, Warner Bros, and Discovery in the weeks after announcing a plan to merge all of their streaming platforms. Stock for Warner Bros Discovery popped about 1.5 percent on news of the series premiere's success.