In the Battle of ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘The Rings of Power,’ the Real Winners Are Fantasy Fans
“The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” have captivated readers and viewers for years, becoming global pop-culture phenomena largely beloved by critics and fans. Now, they’re about to go head to head, with ambitious prequel TV series set to overlap on Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO, respectively, over the next few weeks.
Both companies need the shows to catch on with audiences. Amazon reportedly spent a historically high $1 billion on “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” a series set thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning films. HBO, meanwhile, spent under $20 million to make each episode of “House of the Dragon,” which premieres Sunday and is but one of more than a half dozen “Thrones” spinoffs in the works at the network.
New data from Morning Consult reveals that while U.S. viewers are slightly more interested in the more familiar intellectual property, “The Rings of Power,” than “House of the Dragon,” both companies should feel encouraged by the broad interest the series are attracting ahead of their premieres.
‘The Rings of Power’ and ‘House of the Dragon’ Both Attracting Broad Viewer Interest
Fantasy fans are on board with more “LOTR,” “GoT” content
- Two in 5 U.S. adults said they’re interested in watching “The Rings of Power,” compared with 34% who said they’re interested in watching “House of the Dragon.”
- Meanwhile, 57% of self-identified fantasy fans are interested in watching “The Rings of Power,” compared with 49% of fantasy fans who said they’re interested in watching “House of the Dragon.” The data shows a small lead for “Rings” over “Dragon,” though that could be attributed to “The Lord of the Rings” having a much longer history as an intellectual property than “Game of Thrones.”
- Among all generations, millennials (49%) were most likely to say they’re interested in watching both “The Rings of Power” and “House of the Dragon.” This generation grew up with the “Lord of the Rings” movies and “Game of Thrones” series.
- Nearly 7 in 10 fans of the “Game of Thrones” TV series (69%) said they’re interested in watching “The Rings of Power,” while 56% of “The Lord of the Rings” movie fans were interested in watching “House of the Dragon,” which shows the audiences for both shows is likely to be comprised of a lot of the same people.
Favorability of the ‘Game of Thrones’ Universe Still Lags Behind Other Classic Franchises
“The Lord of the Rings” more popular than “Game of Thrones”
- Nearly half of U.S. adults (49%) had a favorable opinion of “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, while 38% said the same of “Game of Thrones.” About 2 in 3 fantasy fans (66%) said they have a favorable opinion of “The Lord of the Rings,” while 52% of fantasy fans indicated the same about “Game of Thrones.”
- Among U.S. adults, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Marvel Cinematic Universe had higher favorability ratings than “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones.”
- Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the 2019 “Game of Thrones” series finale was despised by many fans of the show, the new survey found that 69% of U.S. adults who watched the finale said they liked it. HBO defended the series finale last month, with programming chief Casey Bloys saying Twitter backlash “is not real life,” while “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin referred to the internet as “toxic.” The better-than-expected response to the “Thrones” finale could be welcome news to HBO as it tries to ignite interest in another series set in the same universe.
- Of the 250,000 entertainment Wiki pages that the hosting platform Fandom tracks, both “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” are in the top 100 in pageviews, a Fandom representative told Morning Consult.
A rising tide of fantasy lifts all series
This week, Amazon revealed the episode release schedule for “The Rings of Power,” with the first two episodes debuting Sept. 2 before switching to an episode-per-week cadence for the remainder of the eight-episode season. The decision to release back-to-back episodes in the series' first week means Amazon will avoid a head-to-head finale matchup with “House of the Dragon” in October. The team behind the show recently said it doesn’t see a rivalry with HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” despite the internet thinking otherwise.
While Morning Consult data shows the public may be slightly more interested in “The Rings of Power” than “House of the Dragon,” there is plenty of room for both series to succeed. Or, as “The Rings of Power” star Robert Aramayo recently put it, more fantasy shows “can never be a bad thing.”
The Aug. 13-14, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of roughly 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Saleah Blancaflor is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering the business of entertainment. @saleyley