Most fans dropped off from watching The Rings of Power before the series finale, which is bad news for the future of the show.
When Rings of Power was first announced, it sounded like it would be an exciting show for fans of Lord of the Rings who wanted to return to Middle Earth. And the prequel setting of the show seemed ideal for fans, new and old, to discover some of the foundational events that would eventually send Frodo, Gandalf, and the rest of the Fellowship on an epic quest to destroy the One Ring. But it looks like Amazon might have been deceived about the appeal of their show by Sauron himself: according to The Hollywood Reporter, only 37 percent of domestic audiences and 45 percent of overseas audiences watched the show from beginning to end.
At first glance, that may not seem so bad. After all, many of us are guilty of starting series and then bailing once they start to suck (a hard lesson that we learned from series such as Game of Thrones). But the simple fact is that Rings of Power needed to have a stronger start to secure a devoted fanbase for its future seasons.
What would a stronger start actually look like, though? Industry insiders claim that a series needs at least a 50 percent completion rate to be considered a solid show, but it’s important to note that actual hit shows have a much higher rate (for example, almost nobody who starts The Last of Us is going to stop until they hit the heartbreaking end of that first season). If the first season of Rings of Power had less than half of its viewers actually see things through to the end of its first season, that may be an ill omen for later seasons.
If Amazon hadn’t already paid a stunning $715 million to bring Rings of Power to life (including purchasing the rights and production cost), the show would likely be considered dead in the water based on these numbers. For example, Netflix gave the axe last year to Resident Evil and First Kill, two shows that failed to break that 50 percent completion rate. However, even those shows had a higher completion rate than Rings of Power, which seems nearly impossible considering the intellectual property we are dealing with.
Think of it this way: Lord of the Rings is not just another franchise. Going back to 1937 with the initial publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the universe of Middle Earth has many generations of fans, with some favoring the original literature and others favoring the amazing films from director Peter Jackson. Rings of Power tried to channel the vibe of those movies while digging into the deep lore of Tolkien’s writing and should have been a slam dunk with these fans, and the fact that so many tuned in but didn’t finish means this series is alienating its core demographic while failing to win over new fans.
For better or for worse, though, Rings of Power will be getting a second season, and showrunners have promised it will have faster pacing. If Amazon is lucky, better pacing might just bring fans back into the fold. But if the second season flops as hard as the first, it won’t be long before fans start asking why we don’t just get the Great Eagles to take us to Mordor so we can throw this show into the pits of Mount Doom, where it belongs.