Even though the first four episodes of Prime Video’s wildly expensive Lord of the Rings TV series The Rings of Power pretty much bored me out of my mind, I’m going to keep watching. Especially since the episode of the series that just dropped over the weekend features an epic battle, which no doubt diminishes the yawn factor considerably. The problem with the slow pace of the show thus far, though, is that some viewers might not end up going the distance and drop off in frustration.
That includes viewers like Tom Forte, an Amazon analyst at D.A. Davidson, who wrote in a recent note for investors that the performance of The Rings of Power has left him … concerned.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
“We fell asleep during our first viewings of episodes one, three, and four and have not watched episode five yet due to a combination of not enjoying the first four episodes and a busy schedule,” Forte wrote.
Forte went on to write that he had been hopeful in the lead-up to the launch of The Rings of Power. However, he’s grown more pessimistic since then about the series, which currently has a 38% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. “Nearly one month after its September 1 launch and five episodes in on an eight-episode season, the audience response (as measured by Rotten Tomatoes) is far worse than we initially expected (as suggested by the critics’ warm reception) and is not improving (as we had, initially, anticipated),” Forte continued.
I’m having a perfectly fine time with Rings of Power, but why does every line of dialogue sound like it was written contentiously by committee and watered down to its most boring iteration.
— Trung Lê Capecchi-Nguyễn @ CXC (@Trungles) September 28, 2022
It's really incredible how bad Rings of Power is. Like not only is it boring, ugly, uneventful, repetitive, and flat, it also seems to actively go out of its way to avoid becoming interesting or telling you anything about its characters.
— Gretchen Felker-Martin (@scumbelievable) September 30, 2022
Amazon, for its part, seems satisfied thus far with the performance of the show, one of the most expensive in TV history. In fact, the company said that, on its first day of availability on Prime Video, the show garnered “25 million global viewers.”
The true measure of success
However, the most important signal of this show’s success won’t be apparent right away.
Unlike a rival like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video unit doesn’t make original shows or movies for the end goal of simply entertaining people. Prime Video’s original content is meant to serve as a key component of the Amazon operational flywheel — making a Prime membership seem so valuable, in other words, that it draws an ever-increasing number of signups, which means more money to make the Prime subscription package more valuable, which draws more signups, and on and on that wheel spins.
Forte uses some back-of-the-envelope math, however, to question whether its Lord of the Rings show is working.
“If we work off of Amazon’s reported figures of 25 million viewers for the launch and an audience of 200 million Prime members who engage with Prime Video, we come up with the following: 12.5% penetration (or 87.5% lack of interest),” Forte wrote, in his analyst note which was reported by Insider.
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