HBO has released the first episode of House of the Dragon for free on YouTube to coincide with the launch of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video.
House of the Dragon premiered on August 21, and the show's first episode is now available in its entirety on YouTube. The video is age restricted and only available in select locations despite originally appearing on the platform without a geo-block. It seems that access may now only be granted to US viewers as a way of region-locking the episode to territories where HBO Max is available.
The first episode of the Game of Thrones prequel was watched by close to 10 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max, making it the largest audience for any new show in HBO's history. Less than two weeks later, the episode is now on YouTube, arriving in time for the debut of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which premiered on Prime Video at the start of September.
The Rings of Power is planned to span five seasons for Prime Video, with the first season alone reportedly costing a jaw-dropping $462 million to produce. It is House of the Dragon's real big fantasy competitor, so HBO's decision to make one episode of the show available for free is likely an attempt to pull in more viewers by attracting those who have not yet tuned in.
House of the Dragon, which has been renewed for a second season, fleshes out the tales of the Targaryen family, who ruled Westeros before the events of Game of Thrones. The first season is set 200 years in the past and shows the beginning of the end of the Targaryen reign, leading up to a civil war waged between family members – and the seeming death of dragons in the fantasy world.
IGN's review of House of the Dragon's debut episode called it "a strong, well-cast start to the Game Of Thrones spin-off" that "feels very close to its predecessor in tone and content, but immediately establishes a struggle for power around an amiable, weak-willed king, and vivid new characters to fight those battles."
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.