Amazon analyst said he 'fell asleep' watching the company's LOTR 'Rings of Power' TV show, making him even more worried the $1 billion project may be a bust

the rings of power
"The Rings of Power."Amazon
  • Tom Forte is concerned about poor viewer reviews of Amazon's "Rings of Power."

  • The streaming-TV show has suffered from "review bombing" from some viewers online.

  • The LOTR project is one of Amazon's biggest ever bets on video-streaming content.

Amazon analyst Tom Forte was already concerned about the performance of the company's Lord of the Rings TV show "The Rings of Power." But after he watched several episodes, he became even more worried about the $1 billion project.

"We fell asleep during our first viewings of episodes one, three, and four and have not watched episode five yet due to a combination of not enjoying the first four episodes and a busy schedule," Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, wrote in a recent note to investors.

The show is one of Amazon's biggest-ever bets on original video-streaming content. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, demanded the company come up with an answer to HBO's "Game of Thrones" megahit, but so far the LOTR project has been met with poor user reviews online. HBO's new prequel, "House of the Dragon," is performing better.

Forte said that he was originally hopeful ahead of the show's launch, but has gotten more bearish as the weeks progress. As of September 28, according to Rotten Tomatoes, the show's average critic's score was an impressive 84% but its audience score was a lackluster 38%, the analyst wrote. Going into the launch, he expected the audience score to start low, as hardcore Tolkien fans were likely to be the first to watch it and likely to be most critical, then improve over time as more casual fans got involved. But that hasn't happened.

"Nearly one month after its September 1 launch and five episodes in on an eight-episode season, the audience response (as measured by Rotten Tomatoes) is far worse than we initially expected (as suggested by the critics' warm reception) and is not improving (as we had, initially, anticipated)," Forte explained to investors.

In a statement to Insider earlier this week, Amazon said that the series "continues to be the most-watched show worldwide on Prime Video, breaking all previous viewing records."

An Amazon spokesperson previously told Insider that audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes had been unfairly lowered by a "review-bombing" campaign orchestrated by malicious online actors. This occurs when users intentionally try to lower a movie or show's audience score in bad faith. In the case of "The Rings of Power," some fans ridiculed the series for including characters of color.

Still, Forte is now trying to quantify the risks to Amazon if the show isn't a megahit. Amazon executives will be closely watching what percentage of all Prime Video streams the project represents and how many inactive Prime accounts logged on to watch "The Rings of Power," Insider previously reported.

"If we work off of Amazon's reported figures of 25 million viewers for the launch and an audience of 200 million Prime members who engage with Prime Video, we come up with the following: 12.5% penetration (or 87.5% lack of interest)," Forte wrote.

"If we marry the audience score, then we get the following: 9.5 million viewers liked it (38% of 25 million) suggesting 4.75% penetration (95.25% did not like it and or are not interested in it)," he added in the research note. "So as much as 95.25% of Prime members may not be happy about paying $20 more per year for Prime because of Amazon's content spending, including LOTR."

Work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact reporter Katherine Long via phone or Signal (+1-206-375-9280) or email (klong@insider.com).

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