When HBO and Amazon decided to premier expansive—not to mention expensive—new fantasy shows within mere days of each other, they set themselves up for a battle that would be as big as any epic that would play out on viewers’ TV screens: Would House of the Dragon take the viewership crown, or would The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power be the genre show to rule them all?
In truth, stacking the two shows up against each other isn’t an easy task; it’s a bit of an apples-to-elfin oranges ordeal because of the platforms they’re on and the data available—or not. Though both shows are rooted in fantasy novels that have legions of devoted readers, that’s largely where the similarities end. House of the Dragon is a prequel to the wildly popular and long-running Game of Thrones series and is available on both cable (HBO) and streaming (HBO Max). Rings of Power, meanwhile, is an original story that takes inspiration from, but is not directly related to, the Peter Jackson-directed movie trilogy, and it streams on a video platform (Amazon Prime Video) operated by one of the largest tech companies in the world. Still, with Rings having just concluded its eight-episode first season and with Dragon preparing to bow the tenth and final episode of its first season on Sunday night, now seems as good a time as ever to try to take stock of their performance.
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