Amazon's 'Rings of Power' isn't making as big of a splash as HBO's 'House of the Dragon' — and it shows the potential risks of dueling big-budget fantasy shows

the rings of power
"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."Prime Video
  • Amazon's "Rings of Power" appears to be facing some growing pains.

  • That's apparent especially when comparing it to HBO's "House of the Dragon."

  • It highlights the risks of releasing two big-budget fantasy shows at the same time.

Jeff Bezos' TV passion project might be experiencing some growing pains.

Five episodes into Amazon's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," the series appears to be facing aggressive headwinds amid a TV landscape ripe with popular IP — at least compared to HBO's own fantasy hit "House of the Dragon," and when considering its hefty, reportedly $715 million price tag.

"The Rings of Power" has been hit with poor audience reactions, and online engagement is muted. That's not to say the show is a failure, but its fantasy counterpart "House of the Dragon" doesn't seem to be dealing with those obstacles.

I recently wrote about how "The Rings of Power" isn't just a TV show for Amazon — it's part of the larger Amazon ecosystem; a cross-promotional effort with everything from Kindle to the grocery service Amazon Fresh.

But it still needs to catch on in a big way.

'House of the Dragon' is driving more sustained interest than 'The Rings of Power'

The shows are airing at the same time; "Rings of Power" debuted less than two weeks after "House of the Dragon" did.

And while the shows are drastically different in tone, they're still both big-budget fantasy stories serving as flagship TV properties.

Both had a strong debut.

"House of the Dragon" was HBO's biggest premiere, being watched by 10 million viewers in the US on its first night across linear and streaming.

Meanwhile, Amazon said 25 million viewers globally tuned in to the first two episodes of "The Rings of Power" on its first day, a Prime Video record. The company didn't say how many people completed the episodes.

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

But "The Rings of Power" is still experiencing other pitfalls — those of a new series trying to cater to a preexisting but emphatic fanbase, while also trying to reel in new fans unfamiliar with its immense mythology, all while another series of similar caliber airs at the same time.

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"House of the Dragon."HBO

Google Trends shows that searches related to "House of the Dragon" spike with impressive consistency weekly after each episode, showing sustained interest. Searches related to "The Rings of Power," however, peaked after its debut.

According to the data firm Parrot Analytics, in the two days leading up to their respective debuts, "House of the Dragon" was more "in demand" than "The Rings of Power," based on online engagement and other factors.

Even piracy data shows more interest in "House of the Dragon." In the first weeks for their premiere episodes, "House of the Dragon" had 45% more piracy than "The Rings of Power," according to the piracy analytics company Muso. That spiked with the second episodes, when "House of the Dragon" was pirated 127% more.

Prime Video is available in over 200 countries, while HBO Max is in 60. But the explosion in piracy for "House of the Dragon" between episodes one and two shows a growing demand.

'The Rings of Power' is struggling to escape poor audience reviews

While the show has been received well by critics, with an 84% overall critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences have seemed, at first glance, less enthusiastic.

It has a 39% overall audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, a 2.4 (out of 10) user rating at Metacritic, a 6.9 (out of 10) IMDb score (which is owned by Amazon), and 3.2 stars (out of five) on Prime Video.

A quick look at audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes suggests some are just bored with the series, or nitpicky about some aspects of the show. And its Prime Video score isn't mindblowing, even after Amazon weeded out trolls.

Much of the poor response could be due to "review bombing," which is the practice of intentionally lowering an audience score, largely for racist or sexist reasons (some fans have complained about some characters being Black).

Rotten Tomatoes isn't the best reflection of fan sentiment with that in mind, but it's also impossible to prove just how vast the bad-faith takes are.

So none of this is to say that "The Rings of Power" isn't popular — for what it's worth, I like the series, but understand why the masses might find its expansive world building hard to engage with. Amazon has committed to five seasons, and it could very well still turn into a phenomenon.

But if Amazon wanted its own "Game of Thrones" ... well, it's hard to compete with "Game of Thrones."

Read the original article on Business Insider