HBO has made the first episode of its Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon available to watch for free on YouTube, a marketing move that amusingly coincides with the release of Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Friday last week.
Life is good for fans of epic fantasy right now, with House of the Dragon drawing in the largest audience ever for a new HBO series (and seemingly bricking the streaming service in the process). At the same time, The Rings of Power attracted 25 million global viewers the day it premiered, which also happens to be Amazon Prime’s biggest debut.
The success of Amazon’s Tolkien adaptation is likely at least partially why HBO is giving everyone a taste of its latest adventure into Westeros, tempting you into signing up for yet another streaming service — though, there are other reasonable explanations for the freebie besides its, ah, fortunate timing. The Game of Thrones series finale received catastrophic reviews from critics and audiences alike on Rotten Tomatoes, so while 10 million people tuned in for the House of the Dragon premiere, it’s understandable that some scorned fans of the franchise might need a little more convincing before jumping back onto the George R.R. Martin hype train.
House of the Dragon is set almost 200 years prior to the events of the Game of Thrones series, detailing the downfall of House Targaryen and their rule over the Iron Throne. As expected, there’s an abundance of dragons, family squabbles, and long, flowing wigs for those who are disappointed by the more contemporary hairstyles featured in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The watch link is, unfortunately, region locked and therefore unavailable outside of the US, however, UK fans can also watch the first episode for free thanks to an upload from Sky TV. Be wary that, as expected for a Game of Thrones spinoff, the series comes with a mature content warning.