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HBO Releases the First Episode of House of the Dragon for Free to Spite Amazon's Lord of the Rings

The move is smart, petty, and extremely hilarious.

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King Viserys Targaryen and Prince Daemon argue in front of the Iron Throne.
Image: Ollie Upton/HBO

Excited to watch the debut of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power over at Prime Video today? Perhaps you might want to check out the platinum blond problems of the Targaryen family instead? Happily, you can do both, thanks to HBO Max releasing the first episode of the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon on YouTube, where anyone can now watch it without paying a dime.

Clearly, HBO is just trying to take some of the attention off of the newer fantasy show by giving even more people the opportunity to watch its own hit fantasy show, which has already racked up 25 million viewers. It’s a wise move given that Amazon has spent $500 million making Rings of Power (plus another $250 million just to acquire the license) and god knows how much advertising it across the internet. Hell, you might be seeing an ad for it right now.

The Lord of the Rings prequel could take some of the attention off of House of the Dragon, especially since Rings of Power reportedly makes Dragon almost look crappy in comparison thanks to its budget. How the stories compare remains to be seen.

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I suspect, however, that House of the Dragon has the edge, but I would like to congratulate HBO for taking a cheap, petty shot against its competition, and will reward it by linking to the show’s premiere episode on YouTube. It’s quite good! And you get to see Matt Smith’s butt!


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.