House of the Dragon is the spinoff prequel to HBO’s popular Game of Thrones series, which is based on George RR Martin’s book series. The first episode dropped on August 21, and HBO Max has made the pilot available for free on YouTube.

However, the free-to-view episode is currently age-restricted, can only be accessed through YouTube, and has been made available for US audiences. It was available to UK audiences some time back too but appears to have been taken down.

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If those living outside the US still wish to view episode 1 for free, one needs to download a VPN or virtual private network. It can help mask a user’s location, and changing the settings to the US would allow one to access YouTube’s content for US audiences, including House of the Dragon episode 1. It is best to check one’s country’s laws against VPN usage before resorting to this tool. In India, VPN usage is legal though the government has some checks in place to collect user data. 

For now, only episode 1 is available for free. All the other episodes, have to be streamed with an HBO Max subscription, while Indian viewers require a Disney+Hotstar account. 

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Episode 2 released on August 28 while the third episode arrives on September 4. The premise follows the Targaryen civil war which took place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. 

HBO’s decision to put up the pilot episode on YouTube seems to be an attempt to compete with Amazon Prime’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, whose pilot, and second episode dropped together on September 1. Thus far, Prime’s spinoff based on JRR Tolkien’s works seems to have had some promising reactions, while many have seemingly review-bombed it on Rotten Tomatoes. House of the Dragon, on the other hand, has already been renewed for Season 2 on account of its early success.