Will ‘House of the Dragon’ or ‘Rings of Power’ Take the Crown in the Battle of the Genre Shows?

When HBO and Amazon decided to premiere extended, not to mention expensive, new fantasy shows within days of each other, they set themselves up for a battle that would be as big as any epic that unfolds on the TV screens of viewers would play: Would House of the Dragon take the viewer’s crown, or would The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power be the genre show to rule them all?

People involved in both shows were shocked by the comparisons. “We’re not even on the same night”, Game of Thrones author and Dragon co-creator George RR Martin told The Hollywood Reporter in July, and yet Hollywood can’t resist, especially as it looks for lessons that can be applied to the more frugal next phase of the streaming wars. “Having something that is a cultural phenomenon is critical to any service,” said LightShed media and technology analyst Richard Greenfield tells Vanity Fair.

In reality, stacking the two shows against each other isn’t an easy task; it’s an apples to oranges ordeal because of the platforms they are on and the data available – or not. While both shows are rooted in fantasy novels with legions of devoted readers, that’s largely where the similarities end. House of the Dragon is a prequel to the wildly popular and long-running Game of Thrones series and is available on both cable (HBO) and streaming (HBO Max). rings of power, meanwhile, an original story inspired by, but not directly related to, the Peter Jackson-directed film trilogy, and it will be streamed on a video platform (Amazon Prime Video) operated by one of the largest technology companies in the world. Still, with rings after just finishing the first season of eight episodes and with Dragon Getting ready to bow the tenth and final episode of the first season on Sunday night seems like a good time to try and take stock of their performance.


First, an exploration of what success looks like for the companies behind both projects. Amazon was best known for silent shows like Police Proceedings Bosch and family drama Transparent and needed a platform-defining, global hit when it reportedly spent $250 million in 2017 to acquire the rights to JRR Tolkien’s fantasy world. Game of Thrones was still wrapping up its eight-season run, and Amazon executives, like many others in Hollywood, were hoping they could host the next watercooler genre show. A Lord of the Rings TV series had the potential to spark a passionate fan base and become a business card for the company, not to mention existing Prime members. With a five-season plan already in place, Amazon has a long-term view of the series, which is expected to cost more than $1 billion when all is said and done. Rings of Power premiered in early September, just as Amazon was also starting its exclusive contract to stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football lineup. “Between Thursday night football and Lord of the RingsAmazon is dramatically expanding Amazon Prime,” said Greenfield. “It’s an important step in the right direction.”

HBO has long been looking for the right show to get its foothold in Westeros Game of Thrones concluded. After disappointing some fans with that series finale, it became all the more important for executives to find the right project to run. thrones into a franchise. In the search for the next show, HBO’s parent company went through two major transitions, first a sale to AT&T and later a merger with Discovery, shifting employee turnover and corporate priorities. When it finally launched at the end of August – more than three years later – thrones new episodes aired—House of the Dragon needed to revive both a fan base and attracting new audiences to stories about swords and dragons, ideally audiences that would be enticed to subscribe to HBO Max and hang out for other shows like succession or barry.

The reviews

It turns out that producing hits is not a zero sum game. HBO says House of the Dragon attracted nearly 10 million viewers in the US when it premiered on August 21, making it the most watched new show in the network’s history. Less than two weeks later, more than 25 million viewers worldwide tuned in to watch rings of power, earning the same distinction for Amazon, according to the company. Those self-disclosed data points indicate that both shows were early successes for their respective companies, but it’s nearly impossible to compare them to determine which show had the better debut.

Nielsen offers a slightly clearer picture of how the House of the Dragon and Rings of Power premieres competed against each other, at least in the US. The rating company said: Dragon reached an audience of 14.5 million on both HBO and HBO Max in its first four days of availability, giving it a slight lead over rings, which had 12.6 million viewers for its first episode in the four days after its premiere.

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