HBO has created a kingdom of hits where none are as popular as “Game of Thrones.” But “Game of Thrones” ended with a bang in 2019 then critics and fans were unhappy with the fantasy epic’s ho-hum conclusion (Bran Stark on the Iron Throne? C’mon!).
So what was HBO to do? Create more “Game of Thrones,” of course.
Enter “House of the Dragon,” a prequel that takes place nearly 200 years before the events of its predecessor and focuses on the Targaryen family. The series’ August debut was highly anticipated, and while the show may not have seemed like much of a risk, a bad start could have obliterated the entire “Game of Thrones” brand faster than a Stark at a royal wedding.
Fortunately for loyal GOT fans and HBO (which, like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery), the series premiered HBO records and has an average of 29 million viewers per episode across all U.S. platforms, according to the network. To put that number into context, season seven of “Game of Thrones” averaged 32.7 million viewers per episode. episodes, and season 8, its final season, averaged 46 million viewers.
The series hasn’t slowed down since.
“Dragon” has seen week-to-week increases since episode three, according to Variety. That includes a 3% increase for the pivotal episode six, in which the series jumps forward a decade and recasts many characters, including the lead, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.
According to entertainment research firm Parrot Analytics, the show’s global demand for the premiere was 64 times more than the demand for the average show worldwide. (“Demand” is Parrot’s metric that measures factors such as downloads and social engagements of a program.) After the seventh episode aired, demand peaked the next day at about 138 times. These metrics mean that global demand grew by 114% between its premiere and its peak.
That success comes amid stiff competition. “Dragon” airs at 9 p.m. ET against NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which has long been one of television’s highest-rated shows. Finding an audience during NFL games is no easy task, but like its predecessor, “Dragon ” it every week. (It doesn’t hurt that “Game of Thrones” is pretty much like watching sportsthough with more dragons.)
What’s more, fantasy fans have a variety of titles to choose from right now: Marvel shows, DC shows, Star Trek shows, as well as “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” Amazon Primes very big bet on the Lord of the Rings franchise. Oh, and let’s not forget the Disney+ series set in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars’ “Andor.”
As “Dragon” approaches its finale in a few weeks, its success so far opens up even more opportunities for the Game of Thrones brand, which has continued to remain popular even after leaving a sour taste over its finish.
That’s good news for HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery, which will use the franchise across multiple platforms from traditional TV to streaming service HBO Max — arguably the most important aspect of the company’s vast portfolio.
And that’s why the series has has already been renewed for a second season. There is still much fire in the world of Westeros.