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"House of the Dragon" Was HBO’s Biggest Premiere Ever With 10M Viewers

House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

NEW YORK—The premiere of HBO’s “House of the Dragon” set records for its first episode on August 21, with HBO reporting it had the biggest audience of any premiere in the service’s history and Samba TV reporting separate data with different numbers showing the show was 2022's most-watched premium cable or streaming premiere, doubling the same day viewership of Netflix's "Stranger Things".

HBO said the premiere of “House of the Dragon” drew 9.986 million viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms in the U.S. Sunday night, the largest audience for any new original series in the history of HBO. 

The premiere also marked the largest series launch on HBO Max across the U.S., LatAm, and EMEA, driving an unprecedented level of concurrent streams on the platform. That is unusual because Sunday night viewership for a HBO series on HBO Max represents just 20%-40% of the show’s total gross audience, HBO said. 

The series was also a hit on social media, where fans showed up in droves to celebrate the return to Westeros. On premiere day, House of the Dragon was the longest trending topic on Twitter, ranking #1 for 14 hours straight, and trended #1 on Google Trends. 

“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,” said Casey Bloys, chief content officer, HBO & HBO Max. “We look forward to sharing with audiences what else George, Ryan, and Miguel have in store for them this season.” 

Citing different numbers, Samba TV reported that “House of the Dragon” delivered 2.6 million U.S. households tuning into the premiere episode in its initial six hours of viewership (between 9 PM/ET and 3 AM/ET on both traditional linear TV viewing and streaming). 

That gave it the highest viewership for any premium cable or streaming premiere in 2022.

“House of Dragon” exceeded the initial same-day viewership of Netflix's tentpole series “Stranger Things” (1.2 million U.S. household viewers streaming in its first day), more than doubling same-day viewership of the season 4 premiere of "Stranger Things" earlier this summer, Samba TV reported. 

Ashwin Navin, co-founder and CEO of Samba TV noted that “HBO has once again tapped into the magic of 'Game of Thrones’ with its spinoff series, `House of the Dragon’. 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 Two drop surpassed its Volume One audience, HBO must look to innovative marketing that drives incremental audience growth to break through today’s saturated content marketplace.”

Samba TV also reported that higher-income households over-indexed to the episode, with the $125K-$150K group over-indexing by the highest margin (+23%) followed by the $200K+ group (+21%).

Gen-Z (aged 20-24) and millennials (aged 25-34) both over-indexed in viewership by 4% and 1%, respectively.

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.