The premiere of "House of the Dragon," a prequel to the acclaimed series "Game of Thrones," drew in nearly 10 million viewers Sunday night, HBO announced Monday. It was the largest audience for any new original series in HBO's history, according to a statement from the company.
Despite a "Game of Thrones" finale many fans considered disappointing, "House of the Dragon" registered 9.986 million viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms, HBO said. The show was a hit on social media as well, HBO said, ranking No. 1 on Twitter's trending topics for 14 hours.
"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," Casey Bloys, HBO & HBO Max chief content officer, said in the statement.
Jennifer Maas, a television business writer for Variety, told CBS News on Tuesday that next week's retention numbers will provide more information — but said the show could mark the return of what she called "event TV," years after the original Game of Thrones went off the air in 2019.
Maas said "House of the Dragon" has many factors working in its favor, including an established fan base and the fact that the series is based on a book in George R. R. Martin's series that has already been published. While much of the original "Game of Thrones" was based on published books from Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, the final two seasons were not – a sore spot for fans unhappy with how the show ended.
"There is a blueprint for this series that's already established all the way through its end, whenever that should be," Maas said.
Set 200 years before the events in "Game of Thrones" transpire, "House of the Dragon" takes fans back to Westeros and tells the story of House Targaryen. The second episode of the series, "Fire Will Reign," will debut on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.