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Prime Video Shifts ‘Rings of Power’ Release Plan; Ready to Compete With ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel

David Satin

If you and your fellowship are worn out waiting for your return to Middle-Earth, Amazon has good news for you! The new Prime Video offering “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” will release its first two episodes on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET a few hours earlier than originally planned. After that, new episodes will debut every Friday at 12 midnight ET.

This represents a slight shift in strategy for “The Rings of Power.” Previously, only one episode was scheduled to premiere at midnight on Friday, Sept. 2. The move suggests that Amazon’s faith in the show is growing. The streamer spent nearly half a billion dollars on the first season alone, so the show’s success is crucial to the company’s bottom line.

The shift also demonstrates Amazon’s confidence in the show’s ability to compete with another fantasy epic: HBO’s “House of The Dragon,” which premieres Sunday, Aug. 21 on the cable channel and its streaming service HBO Max. This prequel series to “Game of Thrones” is expected to be a big draw for HBO, in spite of the decidedly negative reaction to the final season of “GoT.”

At first glance, Amazon’s confidence might seem overblown. After all, as of late June “House of The Dragon” was tracking well ahead of “The Rings of Power” in fan anticipation metrics. “Game of Thrones” is also still one of the most popular shows available, despite the reviled final season. However, that data came before Amazon’s promotional campaign for “Rings of Power” began in earnest.

“RoP” had a huge presence at San Diego ComicCon, debuting a full length trailer and hosting a panel with the cast in Hall H, which seats 6,500 people. Additionally, Amazon recently made the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” film trilogies available on Prime Video, after previously only being available to stream on HBO Max.

“House of the Dragon” and “The Rings of Power” may also attract large segments of the same audience. Although the two shows are both fantasy epics, they present their stories in very different ways, and those differences may well keep audiences from feeling like they have to choose one show or the other.

“HoTD” will lean into the themes of “Game of Thrones”: medieval politics and subterfuge in the foreground with the fantasy elements serving as a backdrop. “RoP” will have a grander, more sweeping feel, with much less — or zero —emphasis on the gratuitous sex and violence that are hallmarks of “GoT.”

While the two series prepare to duke it out, other streaming companies have decided to back away from the competition. Disney+ recently announced that its newest Star Wars show “Andor” would be postponing its premiere date from Aug. 31 to Sept. 21. Disney did not explain the move, but it’s likely that the company wanted to avoid competing with “The Rings of Power” and “The House of the Dragon,” giving “Andor” enough runway to build its own audience.

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