When “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” began streaming on Amazon Prime this week, everyone knew that expectations were high. The billion-dollar series is reportedly the most expensive television show ever produced, and in many ways, Amazon’s status in the so-called streaming wars was contingent on the show’s success. On top of that, the series would inevitably face comparisons to Peter Jackson’s beloved “Lord of the Rings” films (especially considering Jackson’s claims that the show ghosted him). In short, the series didn’t just have to be a hit. It had to be a blockbuster.
And that’s exactly what happened. Amazon announced on Saturday that the first two episodes of the series, which were released Thursday night, were streamed more than 25 million times in their first 24 hours on the site. Those impressive (although unverified) numbers are said to have broken all previous Amazon records, making it the biggest premiere in the history of the streaming service.
“It is somehow fitting that Tolkien’s stories — among the most popular of all time, and what many consider to be the true origin of the fantasy genre — have led us to this proud moment,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “I am so grateful to the Tolkien Estate — and to our showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, executive producer Lindsey Weber, cast and crew — for their tireless collaborative efforts and boundless creative energy. And it is the tens of millions of fans watching — clearly as passionate about Middle-earth as we are — who are our true measure of success.”
In its press release announcing the news, Amazon did not explain how it measures a view, or how much of an episode a subscriber needs to watch for the view to be counted. Although Amazon does participate in Nielsen’s viewership streaming reports, this marks the first instance in which the company has released specific ratings data for a Prime Video original series.
In his review of the series, IndieWire’s Ben Travers wrote that “’The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ flutters to life in bursts, offering reason enough to believe, with time to play out its own story and optimize its own strengths, the Prime Video creation could leave its own gleaming mark on J.R.R. Tolkien’s still-expanding universe. Genuine chemistry draws sparks of humor and heartache. Sizable set pieces house indisputably epic battles. And yes, the grandeur on display is almost too much — all those soaring shots of fantastical cities and glistening scenery routine enough to feel, well, routine.”