Amazon recently released their fourth quarter results for 2022 and used the opportunity in an attempt to tout the success of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
As part of a press release from Amazon, the company stated, “Amazon attracted more than 100 million viewers worldwide to the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, making it the most watched Amazon Original series in every region of the world, with more than 24 billion minutes streamed, and driving more Prime sign-ups worldwide during its launch window than any previous Prime Video content.”
The company then touted the show’s commitment to identity politics, “Amazon Studios also announced the all-female slate of directors—Charlotte Brändström, Sanaa Hamri, and Louise Hooper—for Season Two of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is currently in production in the UK.”
Interestingly, if this 24 billion minutes streamed number is true, it means the series is seeing much more watch time outside the United States than in it. Nielsen recently released their numbers for the top 15 streaming programs of 2022 in the United States and The Rings of Power didn’t even make the list.
The series did eke into 15th place on Nielsen’s top 15 original streaming programs for 2022. Interestingly, it was beat by The Boys, another Prime Video offering.
Not only did The Boys beat The Rings of Power, but it beat by over 1 billion minutes watched.
However, the 24 billion minutes watched mark is still paltry compared to domestic watch time for a number of programs featured on Netflix.
As the Nielsen chart for Top 15 streaming programs overall showcases Stranger Things racked up 52 billion minutes watched in the United States alone. That’s more than double all of The Rings of Power’s watch time.
Ozark also trounced Prime Video’s global numbers by posting 31.3 billion minutes viewed just in the United States alone.
In fact, The Rings of Power was also beat out by reruns of NCI, Grey’s Anatomy, and Criminal Minds which all had more than 24.9 billion minutes viewed each.
Even Disney+’s Encanto film had more watch time than the entire eight episode first season of The Rings of Power.
As for Amazon’s claim that the show drove the most Prime sign-ups during its launch window, this appears to ignore the fact that the company was literally offering to give individuals in Brazil a food delivery service coupon for 30 reals at iFood if they signed up for Prime Video and watched the first episode of the show.
YouTuber George The Giant Slayer explained, “What it basically says if you’ve never had a subscription to Amazon Prime, you go subscribe — and I’m not telling you, I’m just saying what they’re saying — and then if you’ve never watched Rings of Power and it’s your very first watch, you’re going to watch it then they’re going to give you a serial number and that’s going to give you a coupon for 30 reals which you can exchange for food from one app.”
It’s quite possible that the show didn’t actually drive the sign-ups, but the bribe of this significant food coupon drove more of the sign ups than the actual show, and Amazon is attempting to spin the show as the success when it’s actually the food coupon.
In fact, before the series released a major report from Business Insider indicated that Amazon would resort to such tactics with the report stating, “Word from those who’ve seen episodes is positive, and several industry insiders predicted to Insider that Amazon will find a way, regardless of actual viewership, to sound the trumpets of victory.”
An anonymous insider described as a former senior Amazon Studios executive in the report also stated, “The reason why it’s going to succeed is because the executives at Amazon need it to succeed. If it doesn’t succeed, there’s going to be a big question from [Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer] Andy Jassy and the board.”
This alleged executive added, “If we can’t take this piece of IP and make it successful, why is Amazon Studios even here? It has to succeed. There’s no option.”
Another insider indicated that the show has to outperform other Amazon Studios and Prime Video offerings telling the outlet, “If it’s not the highest-performing thing Amazon has ever done, it’s a failure.”
This insider added the caveat, “But the outside world may not ever know.”
This same insider noted that people’s jobs could be on the line if the series does not perform well explaining to Business Insider, “I think [Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke’s] position there is very, very secure but all the senior leaders are probably not sleeping well right now.”
“It’s a high-stakes moment for them,” the insider added.
It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any shakeups at Amazon despite the company attempting to portray these paltry numbers in comparison to its competitors as a success.
What do you make of Amazon trying to spin The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powers’ anemic viewership as a success?