New data reveals that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power beat House of the Dragon in viewership in its first week. Fall 2022 is proving to be an exceptional time to be a fan of fantasy television with the works of both J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin receiving big-budget TV adaptations. Prime Video’s The Rings of Power chronicles the rise of evil in the Second Age of Middle-earth thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Also serving as a prequel of sorts, House of the Dragon depicts the onset of the Targaryen civil war about 200 years before Game of Thrones.
Despite being vastly different shows, the fact that both The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon premiered at around the same time has resulted in a sense of competition between the two for many fans. Although the two shows hold nearly identical critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes, The Rings of Power has proven much more divisive among audiences, with a small subset of fans angry about perceived departures from Tolkien’s vision. Previous data has already revealed that House of the Dragon beat Rings of Power in terms of the number of U.S. households that tuned into each show’s premiere episode, but new data now reveals another side to the story.
According to new Nielsen viewership data, per Variety, The Rings of Power actually beat House of the Dragon in its first week in terms of minutes viewed. Between August 29 and September 4, The Rings of Power was watched for a whopping 1.3 billion minutes, the highest viewership for that time period. House of the Dragon, by comparison, was watched for 781 million minutes, making it the 5th highest viewed title behind Me Time, NCIS, and Game of Thrones. It’s important to note, however, that Nielsen data measures only U.S. television screen viewership and doesn’t account for other devices or viewership from other countries.
Despite both House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power now being victorious by different viewership metrics, neither method has painted the whole picture. An important caveat to Nielsen’s latest report, for example, is that both The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon had different availability within the viewership window being measured. The former series debuted its first two episodes on September 1, while House of the Dragon released its second and third episodes on August 28 and September 4, respectively. The different availability of the two series, in addition to the fact that Nielsen’s measurement doesn’t account for House of the Dragon’s cable viewership, means that assigning a clear winner between the two shows is no easy task.
The latest report regarding the competing viewership between The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon also highlights the fact that the rise of streaming has completely changed how a series’ success is measured. Before streaming, there was clear and readily available data regarding which shows were performing well and which ones weren’t, but it’s significantly less straightforward in today’s entertainment landscape. Regardless of viewership numbers, the passion and craftsmanship poured into both The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon mean the real winners here are fans of fantasy TV.