Nielsen Streaming Top 10: ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘The Rings of Power’ Face Off for the First Time

The two buzziest genre projects on TV rights now are finally having their first viewership battle.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” and Amazon Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings” expansion “The Rings of Power” both appeared on Nielsen’s streaming rankings for the week of Aug. 29-Sept. 4, with “The Rings of Power” coming out on top — taking the No. 1 position with 1.3 billion minutes viewed. “House of the Dragon” was behind it, ranking as No. 5 and being watched for 781 million minutes, 61% less than its rival. (Note: Nielsen measures only U.S. viewing on television screens, excluding other countries and devices.)

This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, as the availability of the two series doesn’t match up exactly. “The Rings of Power” debuted with two episodes at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 1, meaning they were streamable for the last three days plus a few hours of Nielsen’s viewing window. By contrast, “House of the Dragon” premiered its first episode at 9 p.m. ET on Aug. 21, its second on Aug. 28 and its third on Sept. 4 — with Episode 3 arriving just a few hours before Nielsen concluded its count for the week. Additionally, it’s important to note that “The Rings of Power” is a streaming exclusive, while “House of the Dragon” has cable viewership that Nielsen’s streaming chart doesn’t account for.

As such, the Aug. 29-Sept. 4 viewing window does primarily match up both series’ first two episodes against each other, and both series have roughly hour-long episodes, but the fact of streaming exclusivity for “The Rings of Power” is a solid advantage. The contingent of “House of the Dragon” viewers watching the show on cable is sizable; for example, per Nielsen, 3.2 million of the 9.9 million viewers on premiere night for “House of the Dragon” were watching on the HBO channel. That’s roughly one-third of viewers.

But still, “House of the Dragon” had the advantage of its first two episodes being available to watch throughout the entire week. Plus, the small window of availability for Episode 3 shouldn’t be ignored. For example, when Episode 1 of the series premiered at the tail end of Nielsen’s Aug. 15-21 window, it didn’t make the chart, but it still clocked 327 million minutes of streaming viewing in its first few hours on HBO Max.

This week’s Nielsen Streaming Top 10 is the first third-party viewership data to be released about “The Rings of Power.” Previously, the only information available about its audience was Amazon’s self-reporting that the series reached 25 million global viewers in its first day, so this is a big win for the streamer. The billion-dollar budget Amazon invested in the series — making it the most expensive TV project ever — has certainly paid off.

More to come…

More to come…