Only 37 Percent of U.S. ‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Viewers Finished Season 1 — Report

Amazon has previously called the show its top original, having been viewed by over 100 million people worldwide.
Morfydd Clark stars in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"
"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"
courtesy Amazon Studios

Since its premiere last September, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” has been proudly branded a hit by Amazon. Prime Video proclaimed that the fantasy series premiere day broke records for the streamer with 25 million viewers tuning in. As of March, Amazon has been calling it their biggest show ever, with over 100 million people worldwide having watched the series. But streaming ratings are always nebulous, and a new report is calling the show’s success into question.

In the United States, only 37 percent of viewers who started “The Rings of Power” actually watched all eight episodes to completion, according to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter. The number was not shared directly from Amazon, but reportedly came from sources within the organization. Overseas, the completion rate was significantly better, but at 45 percent, less than half of all viewers were compelled to complete Amazon’s Middle-Earth adventure.

IndieWire has reached out to a representative of Amazon Studios for comment.

Admittedly, it’s hard to say for certain how these completion rates compare to other shows, at Amazon or otherwise. The streamers that do release viewership metrics never share completion rates for their titles, so success is measured by the raw amount of hours audiences watched the show — even if a few only tuned in for two minutes. That said, according to the Hollywood Reporter story, insiders at Amazon claimed a 50 percent completion rate would be viewed as a “solid but not spectacular result” for an original.

Based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s writing and developed for television by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay, “Rings of Power” arrived on Amazon last fall with high expectations from the streamer to be a hit, and received largely positive reviews from critics. Amazon also needed “Rings of Power” to be a hit; Season 1 alone had a price tag of $465 million.

But while the show managed to make it to No. 15 on Nielson’s end-of-year list of top streaming original shows, it also had a slightly muted reaction from audiences; on social media, it was completely overshadowed by “House of the Dragon,” which attracted significantly more online conversation according to Parrot Analytics. The show was also largely ignored by award bodies this year; “House of the Dragon,” meanwhile, managed a Golden Globe win for Best Drama Series.

The revelation of “Rings of Power’s” completion rate comes as part of a broader story from the Hollywood Reporter about Amazon Studios’ struggle to produce a breakout defining hit for the Prime Video streamer; sources quoted in the story shared frustrations regarding perceived poor decision making and lack of vision from studio head Jennifer Salke and head of television Vernon Sanders.

Salke, who is quoted in the story, claimed that “250 million households” across the entire globe receive Prime Video; it’s unclear how Amazon tracks Prime Video viewers as opposed to its overall Prime subscription model, but the company last reported it has 200 million subscribers in 2021.

Salke also claimed that “Rings of Power” was a success in the story, saying that “this desire to paint the show as anything less than a success — it’s not reflective of any conversation I’m having internally.” She also said she anticipates the second season of the show, currently in production, will attract more buzz: “That’s a huge opportunity for us. The first season required a lot of setting up.”

“The Rings of Power” is set thousands of years before the events depicted in “The Lord of the Rings.” The show — featuring an ensemble cast led by Morfydd Clark as the immortal warrior elf Galadriel — is executive produced by Payne and McKay with Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, and Gennifer Hutchinson, along with co-executive producer Charlotte Brandström, producers Kate Hazell and Helen Shang, and co-producers Andrew Lee, Matthew Penry-Davey, and Clare Buxton.

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