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Was ‘Rings of Power’ a Hit or a Flop for Prime Video? Does it Even Really Matter?

David Satin

The quest to reach the end of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is shaping up to be as epic of an adventure as destroying the One Ring itself. Prime Video reportedly spent more money on the first season of “Rings of Power” than any show in history, and the returns were decidedly mixed.

On the one hand, The Hollywood Reporter has shared that only 37% of viewers in the United States who started the first season of the show finished it. That number climbs to 45% internationally, but it’s still not a promising metric when a 50% completion rate would be considered a good, but not great result. The show was well received by critics, as its 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes attests to, but a single SAG Award nomination was its only acknowledgment from the major TV award shows — the 2022-23 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 12.

As with many modern series, the show also faced review bombing from online trolls who were upset at its diverse ensemble cast. That led to a vitriolic online discourse surrounding “The Rings of Power,” as its defenders and detractors clashed on various social media platforms and created a story that sometimes overshadowed the show itself.

On the other hand, the show was clearly a big attention-getter for Amazon. It garnered 25 million views in its first 24 hours, a number made more impressive by the fact that only one episode was available in that time. The show also scored the second-highest audience attention rate of any new series in 2022 according to Diesel Labs, trailing only HBO Max’s “House of the Dragon.”

Season 2 of the series is well underway, and is so close to wrapping filming that it will not need to halt production due to the WGA writers’ strike that began on May 1, according to CNN. During a panel conversation this week, lead actress Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) revealed more details surrounding the plot, including the fact that more of the titular Rings of Power will be forged during the season. With such shaky numbers in terms of audience engagement, fans of the series might have reason to be nervous about its future if it were in other hands than Amazon’s.

There is essentially no chance that “The Rings of Power” is canceled before the end of its story, however. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have detailed their plans for a five-season run of the show, and have had it mapped out since before Season 1 went into production. The pair has acknowledged complaints from viewers regarding the slower pace of the first season and promised more action for Season 2.

Amazon executive chairman Jeff Bezos is reportedly an enormous fan of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, and since he is still pretty influential at the company he founded, its ratings are somewhat less important. One Prime Video showrunner was quoted by THR as saying Amazon has “more money than God,” and that the company can essentially do whatever it wants in regards to creating TV.

In the end, it likely won’t matter much if the ratings for “The Rings of Power” improve dramatically or not. The show’s trolls will probably move onto another, newer target in Season 2, and if McKay and Payne can deliver on their promise for a more action-filled season fan engagement will almost certainly improve. With Amazon’s funding behind it, “The Rings of Power” is here to stay, and even the fires of Mount Doom might not be hot enough to destroy it.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 10,000+ movies, TV shows, and Prime Originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” “Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Boys,” and more. Subscribers can also add third-party services like Showtime, and Starz with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Prime Video also offers exclusive live access to NFL Thursday Night Football.

The Prime Video interface shows content included with your subscription alongside the ad-supported Freevee library and some shows and movies you need to purchase, so be sure to double-check your selection before you watch.

Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime for $12.99 per month ($119 per year), or can be purchased on its own for $8.99 per month.


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