In the first head-to-head showdown for two big-budget fantasy series on Nielsen’s weekly streaming chart, Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power got the edge over HBO Max’s House of the Dragon.
For the week of August 29-September 4, the first two episodes of LOTR rang up 1.253 billion minutes of streaming, compared with 781 million for Dragon, which finished fifth for the week.
A major caveat, however: the Nielsen numbers track only viewing via a TV set through HBO Max, so linear HBO as well as multiplex viewing and on-demand orders are not counted. HBO has said that its Game of Thrones prequel has been averaging 29 million viewers across all platforms thus far in its run.
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Due to the vagaries of the Nielsen week, this week’s chart included just three hours of availability for the third episode of Dragon.
The weekly win is a milestone for Prime Video, which recorded its first No. 1 finish for any series in its opening weekend since Nielsen began tracking streaming in 2020. On the film side, the platform’s Coming 2 America also was No. 1 it its first week.
Netflix comedy feature Me Time finished No. 2 for the week, with 927 million viewing minutes.
LOTR: The Rings of Power viewing was driven by an audience that was 55% male, Nielsen said. Additionally, the overall audience’s highest demographic concentration was adults 35 to 49, at 31%.
Prime Video released two Rings episodes on September 1 in the U.S. and has followed with weekly one-episode drops. The general reception of the series — by far Amazon’s biggest bet in the programming realm and a high-stakes followup to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed, multi-billion-grossing LOTR films — has been positive, suggesting a long trajectory on the chart.
Due to the anticipation of the prequel, Game of Thrones‘ 73-episode library— slightly outpaced House of the Dragon, collecting 792 million viewing minutes.
Factoring in some other Nielsen figures, the fantasy battle is closer than the raw weekly streaming numbers would suggest. In its first four days of availability (August 21 to 24), Nielsen estimates that House of the Dragon reached a total audience of 10.6 million viewers via HBO Max in the U.S. In its first four days of streaming, by comparison, Rings was seen by 12.6 million viewers in the U.S. The Dragon number climbs to 14.5 million when including HBO’s main linear channel, though on-demand viewing or showings across the multiplex (HBO2, HBO Latino, etc.) are not counted in that number.
Apart from Me Time and long-established procedural NCIS, Netflix had little to shout about for the week, though thriller series Devil in Ohio managed 716 million minutes of streaming, good for sixth place.
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