The Rings Of Power Has The Nielsen Ratings To Rule Them All (On Streaming)

The data is in for the first head-to-head match-up in the streaming ratings between "House of the Dragon" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." The two fantasy juggernauts have been airing concurrently since "The Rings of Power" premiered on September 1, 2022, with "House of the Dragon" debuting about a week and a half earlier on August 21. The newest Nielsen streaming ratings cover the window from August 29 to September 4, and it looks like "The Rings of Power" came out ahead — with a few caveats.

Variety reports that "The Rings of Power" was the #1 most-streamed show for the week of its premiere, with 1.3 billion minutes viewed. The series had a two-episode premiere, as did "House of the Dragon," which pulled in 781 million streaming minutes from viewers. Since the latter series debuted a bit ahead of "The Rings of Power," though, it actually had three episodes available to stream. Even with that advantage, "The Rings of Power" still bested "House of the Dragon" online, as the George R. R. Martin adaptation placed behind three other programs in the streaming rankings: Netflix's "Me Time" and "NCIS," and, most surprisingly, "Game of Thrones," which scored 792 million minutes.

The Nielsen data only covers viewers in the U.S. and it isn't as cut-and-dry as it seems, since "The Rings of Power," adapted from the "Lord of the Rings" appendices by J. R. R. Tolkien, is a streaming exclusive that can only be viewed on Prime Video. "House of the Dragon," by contrast, has its viewership split between HBO Max and its HBO broadcast. Roughly a third of its audience is watching the show on true, traditional television on HBO.

The harfoots should be happy

What the streaming data seems to indicate is that a lot of viewers have been watching or rewatching "Game of Thrones" on HBO Max as they get back into the world of Westeros through the prequel "House of the Dragon."

For its part, "The Rings of Power" has given Prime Video a #1 hit, which is good news for it and fans considering how much money they've poured into this show, enough to make it the most expensive TV series ever produced. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that really matters here: the extent to which the show's success might affect its future. Even with that in mind, we've heard already that they have five seasons mapped out for "The Rings of Power," and it received an early season 2 renewal way back in 2019 (though the production will unfortunately be leaving New Zealand, aka Middle-earth). The point is, its immediate future, at least, was never in doubt.

As far as the popularity contest between the two shows goes, these numbers are a little more solid than the review-bombing of "The Rings of Power." In the streaming age, the concept of TV "ratings" isn't what it used to be, with reports circulating this week that Warner Bros., for instance, cooked the books for its HBO Max subscriber numbers. People watch shows in different ways now; we're not all crowded in front of the television set to watch black-and-white sitcoms while eating TV dinners with family anymore. That said, Nielsen is a third-party service, so the ratings it provides can theoretically be trusted more, and it should make the harfoots happy that they aren't going to get left behind as they continue their journey in "The Rings of Power" on Prime Video.