The upcoming second season of fantasy drama "House of the Dragon" will consist of eight episodes, two less than season one.
According to entertainment website Deadline, the decision is part of a long-term plan for the series, which includes network HBO considering renewing the prequel spin-off of "Game of Thrones" for a third chapter.
An HBO spokesperson, who confirmed the news to the publication that season two will contain eight episodes, emphasised that the episode count trim was story-driven.
The development comes as production is about to begin on the second season in the UK for an expected premiere in the summer of 2024.
HBO green-lit season two soon after "House of the Dragon" premiered on August 21, 2022, as it drew the largest audience for any new original series in history of the premium broadcaster -- "over 20 million viewers across linear, on demand and HBO Max platforms in the US, based on a combination of Nielsen data and first party data".
"House of the Dragon" is based on George R R Martin's book "Fire & Blood", a history of House Targaryen set 200 years before the events described in "Game of Thrones", which ended its eight-season run in 2019.
In what is a relatively common practice, HBO did not reveal the episode order in the season two renewal announcement last summer. The second chapter was supposed to have another 10-episode run, which eventually changed, leading to some script rewrites.
Potential season three is being prepared and might go ahead, with HBO considering committing to moving ahead with scripts, casting and a production plan.
A portion of the plot originally intended for season two, including a major battle, is moving to season three, according to insiders. "House of the Dragon" is now more likely to run for four seasons, but that has not been determined, added sources.
"House of the Dragon" features an ensemble cast of Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno, and Rhys Ifans.
"Game of Thrones" veteran Miguel Sapochnik was the showrunner on season one of "House of the Dragons" along with co-creator Ryan Condal. For the second season, Condal will now serve as solo showrunner with Sapochnik continuing as an executive producer on the series.
Alan Taylor, another "Game of Thrones" veteran, will also join as a director and executive producer on the second season of the show.