[This article contains information about House of the Dragon, some of which may contain spoilers.]
Streaming services are at the height of their popularity, with Disney+ and HBO Max gaining subscribers each quarter. The popularity of streaming services and the ease with which they offer fans is perhaps one of the reasons why House of the Dragon, HBO’s new flagship series, is breaking viewership records almost weekly.
Despite the complex relationship of the Targaryen family tree, fans still gather in front of their screens every Sunday night from 9 pm to catch a new episode. According to Variety magazine, Episode 6 drew three percent more viewers than Episode 5. While Episode 4 showed a five percent increase. This marks House of the Dragon’s third consecutive week of growth.
These figures for these increases are based on cable viewership across four airings on HBO, viewers on HBO Max, and other HBO platforms throughout the night. As it stands, season one of the series sees an average of 29 million viewers per episode across all platforms. On cable alone—through HBO itself—viewership for Episode 6 reached a high of 2.479 million viewers.
While it’s impossible to make a like-for-like comparison between House of the Dragon and its parent show, Game of Thrones, it’s worth understanding that HBO’s streaming platform wasn’t quite as robust when Game of Thrones first aired. Another thing to note is that Game of Thrones was brand new to viewers, while House of the Dragon is a highly anticipated series that rides on the back of its widely successful predecessor.
Some of the most popular episodes of House of The Dragon include the season premiere, drawing almost 10 million viewers across linear channels and streaming services in the U.S. alone. The premiere undoubtedly made history for HBO, bringing in the largest audience for any new HBO original series. In Episode 1, viewers meet a young Rhaenyra Targaryen, understand the family politics that plague House Targaryen and get a glimpse of the level of drama they can expect to see in the next nine episodes.
Another highly rated episode is Episode 4, which drew approximately 2.536 million viewers across four linear airings, according to Nielsen ratings in the U.S. The episode aired alongside week one of Sunday Night Football on NBC.
The highly discussed Episode 4 saw Rhaenyra and her uncle, Daemon, finally act on the growing sexual tension between the two of them. While they didn’t actually follow through with the act, their carousing led to rumors that eventually saw the dismissal of Ser Otto Hightower as the hand of King Viserys. Otto’s dismissal further sowed discord between Rhaenyra and Otto’s daughter, Alicent.
Lastly, Episode 6, which, as mentioned, brought in 2.479 viewers alone through cable, featured the most significant time jump yet. In this episode, casting swaps for Rhaenrya and Alicent were made. Emma D’Arcy replaces Milly Alcock, while Olivia Cooke takes over from Emily Carey, playing older versions of their characters. While nothing much has changed, plotwise, the episode allowed users to adapt to the new cast members and, yet again, set the tone for any changes. As both Alcock and Carey have become fan favorites, the increase in viewership for this episode signals to HBO that House of the Dragon might just be able to hang on to its viewership numbers despite significant changes.
Viewership numbers for Episode 7 are not out yet but, reviews for the episode have been good, with critics applauding the drama and writing.
If the trend continues, House of the Dragon might just surpass Game of Thrones in terms of viewership in the future. Considering how it’s much easier to follow than the events of Game of Thrones and the fact that you don’t need to be a Game of Thrones fan to watch House of the Dragon, the series might just be able to win new fans, too.