‘House of the Dragon’ viewers fall even as Max hits record

THE HBO series House of the Dragon returned to an audience of 7.8 million total viewers on Sunday night, a 22% decline from last year for one of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s marquee shows.

The program, which airs on both the HBO cable channel and the Max streaming service, was the highest-rated HBO series premiere of all time when it debuted last year, drawing about 10 million viewers. 

This year, as audiences continue to shift from traditional channels to streaming, the show contributed to the largest single-day audience ever for Max, Warner Bros. said in an email Tuesday. 

House of the Dragon  takes place two hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones, the HBO megahit that ran for eight seasons from 2011 to 2019. It once again follows the Targaryen family as they vie for control of the Iron Throne in the fictional land of Westeros. The network has already ordered a third season.

Season two plunges the viewer into the brink of a bloody civil war between King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), each representing factions within the family. 

New episodes will be released every Sunday on HBO and Max. The season will have eight episodes, compared to the ten-episode first season, with each episode about an hour in length. 

House of the Dragon comes out at a difficult time for Warner Bros., which is wrestling with a deteriorating cable-TV market and the potential loss of its NBA TV package. The shares fell 2.4% on Tuesday to $6.99, their lowest level since the company’s merger with Discovery Inc. in 2022. –BLOOMBERG