HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ debut draws 10 million viewers


HBO’s “House of the Dragon” scored nearly 10 million viewers in the U.S. on Sunday, setting a viewership record for the debut of an HBO original series.

The company announced Monday that its prequel to “Game of Thrones” was a bona fide hit.

The show, which also debuted on streaming service HBO Max, had big boots to fill.

The original series, “Game of Thrones,” steadily grew into HBO’s biggest series ever. It ended after eight seasons in May 2019 with an enormous audience — its finale drew more than 19 million viewers — but that story’s ending fell short of expectations for some of its most ardent fans.

The latest incarnation, based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood” book, is set in the fictional Westeros about 200 years before the “Game of Thrones” mayhem. The new series struck familiar themes: a succession drama filled with jealousy, flying dragons and gory human deaths. Most critics’ reviews were favorable.

“It was wonderful to see millions of ‘Game of Thrones’ fans return with us to Westeros last night,” Casey Bloys, HBO and HBO Max chief content officer, said in a statement. “‘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.”

There were scattered reports of HBO Max servers crashing during the premiere.

The network plans to televise a new episode of “House of the Dragon” every Sunday through Oct. 23.

The series launched less than a week after HBO and HBO Max laid off 70 people, about 14% of its workforce. Warner Bros. Discovery — which formed in April when the smaller Discovery merged with WarnerMedia — has had a rocky start. Its stock is down more than 50% since early April, and insiders have been rattled by reorganizations and downsizing, including the abrupt closure of CNN+, a shake-up at the historic Warner Bros. film and TV studio and the dumping of a nearly completed HBO Max movie “Batgirl.”

In an email to Warner Bros. Discovery staff two days before the premiere, Chief Executive David Zaslav signaled his company’s lofty goals for “House of the Dragon,” when thanking the team at HBO. The group has “shepherded what looks to be the next big cultural moment,” Zaslav wrote.

Zaslav also noted the marketing campaign, saying it, too, was the biggest in HBO history, reaching 130 million people in the U.S.


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