Amazon self-reported Prime Video viewership for the first time ever this month to declare that 25 million viewers worldwide streamed “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” in the series’ first 24 hours of availability on the platform. This figure broke “all previous records” and marked “the biggest premiere in the history of Prime Video,” according to an Amazon press release.
Of course, there is no way of verifying this. While Prime Video content is included in Nielsen’s weekly streaming ratings data, this is the first time Amazon has publicly indicated how many people are watching any of their original series. And comparing the “Rings” figure to Nielsen data is not a straightforward matter; the ratings firm measures only U.S. streaming viewership in minutes viewed per week, making it difficult to determine how many people actually watched a show or movie. (Nielsen has yet to report viewership for “Rings.”)
Indeed, the context-free number of 25 million viewers is an illusory attempt at transparency. The figure recalls Netflix’s days of reporting the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of a title; as Variety noted, “Amazon did not specify how it measures a view, nor how much of an episode a user needs to watch to count as a viewer.”
And though “The Rings of Power” has undoubtedly accumulated more viewers since its debut, between the subsequent episode released Sept. 9 and later viewers catching up with the two-episode premiere, Amazon has not released any further numbers quantifying the show’s performance.
One wonders if the 25 million figure was simply Amazon’s attempt to outclass HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” the other blockbuster fantasy series often pitted against “Rings” in the press. The “Game of Thrones” prequel/spinoff scored nearly 10 million viewers in the 24 hours following its own premiere, across both linear and streaming platforms.
But that number includes only U.S. viewers, one of multiple reasons why the available “Rings” and “House of the Dragon” data can’t really be compared directly. Unlike Amazon, HBO has reported on the delayed audience for its fantasy epic. According to a later press release, the first episode’s viewership grew to over 20 million in the week following its debut, and Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said this week the episode has now been seen by “well north of 30 million viewers.”
HBO also released same-day viewership for “Dragon’s” second episode, which rose to 10.2 million, showing a steady performance for the series. (The network has not, however, reported streaming viewership for the series past episode 2.) If Amazon truly wants to flex its viewership, more data is sorely needed.