'House of the Dragon' season 2 ratings prove I was completely wrong about 'Game of Thrones'

Matt Smith, Emma D'Arcy HBO House of the Dragon Season 1 - Episode 10
(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

It’s a good job I’m not a betting man as “House of the Dragon” would have cost me a lot of money. 

In the wake of the disastrous final episode of “Game of Thrones”, an episode so bad that it soured the whole series for many viewers (including yours truly), I genuinely thought the franchise was dead. After the flagship series ended with such a whimper, I believed any spin-off was doomed to fail with audiences likely to shun it in disgust following the Thrones finale. 

“House of the Dragon” season 1 has already made that viewpoint look rather foolish, and new ratings for the premiere of its sophomore season have put the above argument well and truly to bed. The “Game of Thrones” love is alive and the epic fantasy series remains a juggernaut. 

Variety reports that “House of the Dragon” season 2 episode 1 (entitled “A Son for a Son”) brought in 7.8 million viewers across HBO and its sister streaming service Max. While this is less than the 10 million that watched the premier of its debut season, it’s an extremely healthy number considering a season-to-season drop is expected with pretty much all TV shows. 

These ratings were enough to secure Max’s biggest streaming day ever, though it should be noted that metric is a little unreliable as it does not factor in the period when the platform was known as HBO Max. Nevertheless, it’s a clear sign that the Thrones empire reigns supreme and that audiences love "House of the Dragon". 

“House of the Dragon” is what the Thrones franchise needed

Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) sitting in a chair in the Small Council room in "House of the Dragon" season 2

(Image credit: HBO)

The biggest compliment I can give “House of the Dragon” is that it harkens back to the glory days of its predecessor series, “Game of Thrones”. 

"Thrones" went completely off-the-rails by the end, but I’m hoping that “House of the Dragon” can maintain its high level of quality. There's good reason to be optimistic. The story it’s adapting has been fully told, while the showrunners for "Thrones" outpaced the source material and eventually had to go off book with poor results. 

“House of the Dragon” offers the same compelling mix of character drama, big spectacle and unpredictable twists that made the original "Thrones" series such a smash hit, and it packs some seriously powerful performances with leads Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke the show’s driving force. Not to mention all the brilliant supporting turns including Matt Smith, Rhys Ifans and Steve Toussaint. 

This spin-off series has successfully reminded me, and seemingly others too, of what I loved about “Game of Thrones” in the first place, and has done a nearly perfect job of bringing the franchise back into the good graces of formerly spurned fans. Before its debut, I was skeptical, but it’s blown my expectations out of the water. 

Peter Claffey as Ser Duncan in "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

(Image credit: Steffan Hill / HBO)

This won’t be the only spin-off we get either. HBO has confirmed that “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is now in full production, and will adapt George R. R. Martin’s novella “The Hedge Knight”. Additional reports suggest the “Ten Thousand Ships” series that was previously scrapped is now being revived, and the previously confirmed Jon Snow series may be on ice according to Kit Harrington, but could also return down the line. 

It’s clear that the “Game of Thrones” universe is set to greatly expand over the coming years. “House of the Dragon” will be far from the only spin-off we see. Based on the pace projects seem to be entering development, Thrones could soon challenge “The Walking Dead” for the highest number of spin-offs. 

Before “House of the Dragon”, I would have approached these series with a high degree of cynicism and presumed them to be DOA, but I can admit when I’m wrong, and in this case, I was well wide of the mark. The “Game of Thrones” franchise is on course for redemption, and over the next year looks set to wipe away any lingering taste from its poor final season. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • Arthur H. Bonney
    It’s actually nice to see someone who can admit when they were wrong about something. Too much arrogance everywhere. There’s nothing wrong when admitting you were wrong. It shows a strength so many people have lost or that many never had.
  • Finfsfan83
    They may have got lot viewers but in my opinion the episode 1 s2 was a flop it was like they were introducing ppl all over again and had no action or twist lucky for them im try get to all that stuff and ill come bk for episode 2
  • Ohx
    Even with the disastrous ending to Game of Thrones, it's still easy to slip back into Westeros while it's being handled competently. Martin is second to none in world building and his fantasy series has a depth to it nothing else has.

    His writing is fantastic stuff, and the one saving grace to the dumb ending of the main story arc is that we still haven't seen his version. We may never at this point, but that slim hope of a better conclusion to the song of ice and fire can keep the whole thing afloat.