House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel, arrives on HBO on Sunday night. The series deals with the fate of House Targaryen, but that is not the only thing at stake. 

Warner Bros Discovery, HBO’s parent company, will take a call on the future of the GoT franchise based on how the spinoff performs. Amid Warner Bros Discovery’s new bottom line of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the performance of the series will determine how far they commit to the world of Westeros. 

Ryan J Condal, showrunner and co-creator, said “It’s a big responsibility to take on”, adding, “Because I feel like the success of this show will dictate how deep the exploration of this universe goes. I think there’s a lot of interest in seeing other corners of this world [but] I think all that will rely heavily on House of the Dragon doing what it needs to do commercially for HBO”, as per The Hollywood Reporter. 

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The parent company has shown that it is not averse to axing content, including the Batgirl movie and CNN’s Reliable Sources, which led to longtime anchor Brian Stelter’s exit. New Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav has stood by his decisions in calls with shareholders and explained he has a ten-year plan for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) which is akin to the one the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has. However, there has been no clarity on any such plans for the GoT universe. 

The original series got off to a strong start but its popularity took a massive hit in the final season, with errors like a modern-day coffee cup making it to a shot in the medieval fantasy show. The finale also left viewers dissatisfied and many felt that key characters didn’t get the right treatment they deserved. 

Initially, there were several GoT projects planned, including Bloodmoon, which was set thousands of years before the events in the original series. However, HBO has since then decided to put all chips in House of the Dragon. 

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While Game of Thrones eventually swelled to 20 million in terms of viewership, House of the Dragon is expected to start off with something between 6-10 million, to call it a success. However, no clear metrics have been defined and Condal told THR, “[Co-showrunner] Miguel Sapochnik and I talked about this from the beginning. We said we can’t make this show defensively, we can’t be guessing what the studio wants us to be or what fans might want in three years time”, adding, “Things at HBO, at Warner, at Discovery have been changing so fast, we can only hold on to our idea. We have a creative vision and we’re going to execute it. This is a new show set in Westeros, but that has to stand on its own merits. Then, we’ll see what happens.”