25 Million Views… Oh, R-E-A-L-L-Y

25 Million Views… Oh, R-E-A-L-L-Y

Hello, I’m the Dark Herald and I’m here to look at your books.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “numbers don’t lie?”

Accountants say that all the time… When they want a good laugh.

Amazon is proudly claiming they have 25 million views for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, on its very first day of streaming.  That is a nice ROUND number, isn’t it?  

“25 million people viewed it.”  Always be careful with the exact wording.

We can start with I don’t believe it for a second.  

Warner Brothers is, for their part, claiming 25 million for the first week of House of the Dragon, and Warner Brothers put the first episode up for free on YouTube.  Realistically, House of the Dragon has had way better public reception than Rings of Power. And ain’t it funny that Amazon had the exact same ROUND number?

So, where did this massive overnight number come from?

Well, it came from Amazon.com.   

Surely that is enough reason to believe it.  No?  People just don’t trust mega-corporations anymore. So sad.

Not too long ago, Amazon bought IMDB.com, (by the way you can only leave a six-star and above review for Rings of Power there now), which means they finally have a source of revenue for Prime Video. They created a commercial television service for Prime Video using the IMDB logo.  I just checked and they have changed the name of it to FreeVee.  Cool.  Anyway, most of the shows that are now on IMDB FreeVee are damn near abandoned media, plus a few originals that are very cheaply made. Consequently, the ad revenue isn’t that big but it beats zero so far as Amazon is concerned.  Okay, fair enough, America ain’t no hippy commune. Yet.

But here is the big thing.  Those advertisers have the right to look at the streaming data that Amazon collects.  And they also have a right to an independent audit of that data because you aren’t going to take Amazon’s word for it.  On the basis of those views, the ad rates get decided.

That doesn’t apply to something with no ads on it.  Like Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.  

That said, they can’t really just pull a number out of Jeff Bezos’ butt and declare it kosher.  It needs to have a passing acquaintance with objective reality or Amazon’s reputation takes a massive hit in the entertainment industry. 

So where did the 25 million come from?

You will note they claim 25 million people, not 25 million individual unique profile views.  Amazon is not going to say how many individual profiles streamed it.  Time for some detective work. First, we have to figure out what counts as a “view.”

Someone who watched the whole thing?  

Well, it couldn’t be that, I mean, who does watch the whole thing to include the credits?  

I can be reasonable, but how long a period of time? What is the percentage of the show?  As a Tolkien fan, I was always going to give it a look, but they would have lost me by the time they glossed over the Kin-Slaying.  I would have been out after less than ten minutes if I didn’t have to do a review.  Yet, I am quite certain I would have counted as a view

But was it even ten minutes? 

Amazon had The Rings of Power on its front page. If you have Prime it immediately went into a preview-type mode like Netflix does.  Unlike Netflix, if you did nothing for a few moments the window would quietly expand and the whole episode would play. You didn’t have to hit Play for that to happen. 

Darklings: But, oh Herald of the Dark, you said to watch out for exact wording and you’ve been saying views, not people. Amazon specified people.

Good catch my Unfallen ones. Amazon had no way to tell exactly how many people were watching per unique individual profile (I hope), which means they were making some scientific wild-ass guesses. 

The current average American family has 3.13 members.  But that might not matter because we aren’t talking about the average American family, we are talking about the average Amazon Prime family across the globe.  I don’t know what that average is, although I guarantee you that Amazon does. I’ll take a SWAG of my own and say 4.0. That is the kind of nice ROUND number that Amazon is so fond of. Divide 25 million by 4.0 and you have 6,250,000 unique profile views.

For a global audience.

That is a serious underperformance for the premiere episode of a major show that costs $50 million per episode. And just a quick reminder, Amazon has pre-committed to a five-year run in total. They have already fallen back to Plan B and started screaming racist. Which is kind of funny because even though there is black Targaryeon now, House of the Dragon doesn’t seem to be having any kind of trouble with racists. Only Lord of the Rings and its massive audience of, let us be honest here, six million+ people across the entire planet are having that kind of trouble at the moment.

Also, that was only for the first episode. Amazon released the second episode at the same time and they are not mentioning any numbers for that show at all.

Jeff Bezos is not Amazon’s sole proprietor.  In fact, he only owns about 10%.  This big of a shipwreck has to have Amazon’s institutional investors asking Jeff some awkward questions.


UPDATE: OWWwwww! Samba.TV has released its metrics on Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and they are b-a-a-d. Amazon was claiming a huge number for its first day. Samba.TV uses the first three days. On its first three days, the Rings of Power only got 1.8 million US views.


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