HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon will debut tonight, August 21st, just 11 days before the release of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Both shows have massive fanbases, but only one is showing signs of drawing early viewer enthusiasm.
A comparative Google Trends search comparing interest in the two series over the last 30 days shows that House of the Dragon has garnered far more interest from potential viewers than the tale based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s sword and sorcery source material. Searches for the two shows were nearly identical until July, when the first trailers for both shows were released.
Since then, House of the Dragon has far outpaced The Rings of Power, with the former scoring 100 out of a possible 100 in terms of interest this week. Despite the fact that the LoTR film franchise had a decade head start on Game of Thrones, which first aired in 2011, the Tolkien property isn’t as highly anticipated.
HBO Max isn’t relying solely on the whims of fans for its success
It appears that Amazon, which is still finding its original content studio legs, is just now learning some of the lessons HBO has honed over the course of its 50-year lifespan. In addition to a more fiscally efficient production, HBO and its HBO Max streaming arm have been aggressively innovative in how Dragons is promoted.
HBO teamed up with Duolingo to promote a course in the show’s High Valyrian language, and partnered with Snapchat to offer a new dragon selfie augmented reality Lens and a location-based immersive feature that lets users interact with virtual dragons. HBO Max also paired with Roku to offer a unique House of the Dragon fan experience that includes a new menu option, giveaways, screensavers, and a Roku Rundown show that will cover the new series.
Amazon may be about to get a harsh lesson in how to win the prestige TV wars
The disparity in interest between the two shows is even more stark when considering the budgets for the competing fantasy franchises. Rings had a season one budget of $465 million compared to Dragons’ estimated budget of roughly $150 to $200 million for season one.
While Amazon has its vast trove of e-commerce and cloud revenue to buttress its original content bets, Rings will still need to make up a lot of ground to be competitive with Dragons and make its investment pay off. House of the Dragon airs on HBO and HBO Max on Aug. 21, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power airs on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 1.