Game of Thrones was a smash hit for nearly a decade, and now its prequel is showing the same trend. House of the Dragon has only aired its second episode, but has already been green lit for a second season.
Over one million Australians tuned in to Foxtel and Binge last Monday to watch the first episode of House of the Dragon. These numbers make it the most watched premiere ever for the platforms. Similarly, the US experienced the same level of excitement, on a larger scale. Almost 10 million viewers across linear and streaming platforms tuned in.
The new spin-off series is based on George R.R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire & Blood. Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, it tells the story of the rise and fall of the House Targaryen. The cast includes Paddy Considine (Peaky Blinders), Matt Smith (Dr. Who), Milly Alcott (Upright) and Emma D’Arcy (Wanderlust).
Binge executive producer Alison Hurbert-Burns spoke about the success of the show. “[House of the Dragon] has launched to strong critical acclaim from reviewers here and around the world. We are so thrilled that the series has reignited Game of Thrones fans. It’s brought in a new audience as viewers tune in to see what all the hype is about.”
House of the Dragon media spend
These large numbers are also a success from HBO’s massive media spend, valued at over $100M. Pia Barlow, EVP of HBO Originals Marketing, said the reasoning behind the large spend was to “galvanise both new and existing fans”. “House of the Dragon campaign is really about generating big, broad awareness and interest throughout the summer. But we want to make sure we’re signalling to existing fans as well as new fans alike that this is a new Game of Thrones story,” says Barlow.
Following the record numbers, HBO greenlit the series only after the first episode had been released. Francesca Orsi, executive vice president, HBO programming has commented on the renewal. “We are beyond proud of what the entire House of the Dragon team has accomplished with season one. Our phenomenal cast and crew undertook a massive challenge and exceeded all expectations, delivering a show that has already established itself as a must-see-TV.”
However, will the series be able to hold up against this large number of viewers? Especially given how hurt fans were after the Game of Thrones finale?
Flashback to when the pilot of Game of Thrones aired in 2011, it drew 2.2 million viewers in the US. By 2019, the finale grew exponentially with 19.3 million viewers in the US, not including delayed viewing. Although the premiere of House of Dragons did garner the most views of a show this year, it is sitting behind the finale by almost 10 million views.
Surprisingly, the second episode gained two percent of viewers from the first episode. Perhaps this is hope for the prequel, and discussions may be able to acquire a large number of audiences. This is looking very hopeful for the finale, especially as bingers are waiting until the entire series has aired before starting House of the Dragon.
The series will be very interesting to keep an eye on, especially as HBO has seven other spinoffs in the works.