In theory, the launch of House of the Dragon – the much-anticipated, much-promoted prequel to Game of Thrones – should have been something of a welcome victory for HBO Max amid news about disappearing content and concern about the platform's place in the new regime of Warner Bros. Discovery. Unfortunately, last night’s premiere showed that the distance between theory and reality can be quite vast.
According to complaints across social media, thousands of fans were unable to watch the show on HBO Max on Sunday night, with DownDetector reporting roughly 3,700 outages within 10 minutes of the show’s East Coast debut, leading to the humorous instance of an HBO Max customer service account asking the official HBO Max account if they needed help streaming the show.
The company tried to downplay the issue, releasing a statement that read, “House of the Dragon is being successfully viewed by millions of HBO Max subscribers this evening. We’re aware of a small portion of users attempting to connect via Fire TV devices that are having issues and are in the process of resolving for those impacted users.”
Sure enough, the problems seemed to be primarily affecting those accessing HBO Max on the Amazon Fire TV platform or using a Fire Stick. The so-called process of resolving the problems seems to have been a quick one; within a few hours, reported outages were under 50.
There’s a way in which WBD and HBO can turn this into a positive story – “House of the Dragon was so big, it crashed our servers!” – but until that happens, it looks like another embarassment in a week full of embarrassments for the streaming service that included the removal of 200 episodes of Sesame Street, a number of animated shows created specifically for the service, and reports that cutting content was happening specifically so that the company wouldn’t have to pay residual payments to creators.
For now, House of the Dragon is available to stream on HBO Max with no problems. The show, set 200 years before Game of Thrones, centers around House Targaryen and the internal politics of the house as it attempts to cement its power and stars Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, and Emma D’Arcy.
If you want to know more about House of the Dragon (and less about streaming outages), check out Popverse’s liveblog of the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel from July.