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How Amazon beat out Netflix and HBO to land ‘The Lord of the Rings’ prequel

Published Mar 8th, 2019 3:03PM EST
Lord of the Rings
Image: New Line Cinema

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In a media landscape where binge-worthy content is king, a popular TV series not only has the potential to put a streaming service on the map, it can also take an already-popular streaming service to the next level. The first example of this dynamic was arguably the success Netflix enjoyed with House of Cards a few years back. More recently, Hulu’s brand increased dramatically thanks to The Handmaid’s Tale, the company’s award-winning drama starring Elisabeth Moss.

That said, the battle for original content these days is incredibly fierce, with any number of media and tech giants more than willing to throw around boatloads of cash in the hopes of landing the next big thing. And while it’s never easy to predict which show will become a mainstream juggernaut, there’s a good chance that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel will do just that.

Amazon purchased the rights to the series back in 2017 and, in the process, had to contend with competing offers from the likes of Netflix, HBO, and even Apple. Interestingly enough, a fascinating new report from CNBC reveals that Amazon managed to secure the rights to the show even though it didn’t necessarily have the highest bid.

As it turns out, J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate was compelled to strike a deal with Amazon because the company could offer up a strategy that involved leveraging video content to sell more books.

The Tolkien estate was convinced that in promoting the series, Amazon could sell truckloads of Tolkien’s fantasy novels, including “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion” as well as “The Lord of the Rings.”

Amazon’s ability to connect content to commerce won over the Tolkien estate.

The new show likely won’t arrive on Amazon until 2021 and undoubtedly has the potential to do for Amazon what Game of Thrones did for HBO. Content wise, there’s not a whole lot we know just yet. Still, the official The Lord of the Rings on Prime Twitter account recently started posting a number of intriguing tweets.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.