House of the Dragon vs The Rings of Power

Written by
Tori McBride

Insights by
Dasun Jayawardena

14 Sep, 2022

Given the current state of the world, it’s no surprise that the public is turning to the fantasy genre for some much needed escapism. In fact, 2022 is shaping up to be the biggest year ever for the genre on screen. We’ve already seen a wave of new fantasy releases, with two of the most highly anticipated TV series, Amazon Studio’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (LotR) and HBO’s House of the Dragon (HotD) both premiering in the last couple of weeks.

Both shows have broken viewership records for their respective channels, as well as budget records. HBO has spent more on HotD than it did the final season of Game of Thrones and TROP emerging as the most expensive drama ever produced, with the first season costing a reported $465m.

To understand who is driving this fantasy frenzy, our Insights Team segmented the audiences of each of these books-turned-franchises to uncover who they appeal to, who their biggest engagers are and how their audiences compare. Here’s what we found.

Our study uncovered four key groups within the HotD and LotR audiences, namely, Entertainment Lovers, Contemporary Culture, Professionals and Gaming & Fantasy Fans.

Figure 1: The four key groups within the audience included Entertainment Lovers, Contemporary Culture, Professionals and Gaming & Fantasy Fans.

Figure 1: The four key groups within the audience included Entertainment Lovers, Contemporary Culture, Professionals and Gaming & Fantasy Fans.
Figure 1: The four key groups within the audience included Entertainment Lovers, Contemporary Culture, Professionals and Gaming & Fantasy Fans.

Entertainment Lovers

Within the Entertainment category, we uncovered a swathe of Mainstream Entertainment Fans, along with Avid TV Watchers and Film & Theatre Enthusiasts, indicating that the series are garnering support from both mainstream TV fans as well as hardcore cinephiles. We also found a tribe of Sports Fans with interests surrounding football, rugby and motorsports, illustrating that their audiences are not exclusively fantasy fans, but share wider passions well outside of the genre. The presence of such broad audiences also suggests that these new shows are ​​changing public perceptions of the fantasy genre and that its themes of politics, family and good vs evil are truly universal.

Contemporary Culture

Our analysis unearthed a number of contemporary culture tribes, including core Contemporary Culture Fans, Party People, Gen Z Students & Graduates and Socialites. The interests of these tribes vary from social media and events, to music and popular British culture, all of which point to a younger demographic. It’s no secret that The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had a tremendous influence on contemporary culture and the presence of so many younger-skewing tribes within our study suggests that we’re still feeling its effects today.

Professionals

The Professionals category included Informed City-Dwellers, Professionals, Keen Readers & Authors and Lifestyle Blogging Mums. Their passions and interests, such as literature and art, are markedly more sophisticated than those of the contemporary culture tribes and point to an older demographic. Given their maturity, these Professionals were likely also fans of the original Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings titles, which could have sparked their initial interest in the fantasy genre.

Gaming & Fantasy Fans

The fourth and final category within this audience was Gamers & Fantasy Fans. Making up a significantly larger proportion of the audience compared to other tribes in the study, this group represents a key group of decision makers. Given their deep passion for video games, comics, fiction and films, the presence of these tribes is a testament to the potential for genres like fantasy to span multiple mediums. These tribes also present an exciting opportunity for brands looking to appeal to audiences by offering more interactive ways to experience their favourite genre.

How do the two shows compare?

Figure 2: Thematic breakdown of each series according to tribe size.
Figure 2: Thematic breakdown of each series according to tribe size.


House of the Dragon

When comparing the two series, we found that HotD was most popular amongst the Mainstream Entertainment Fans, which made up 27.8% of the total audience, followed by the Avid TV Watchers tribe with 17.3% of the audience.

The original Game of Thrones series was released ten years prior to the first The Lord of the Rings film (2001 vs 2011) to much acclaim and remains the most watched TV show of all time. Now a stalwart of mainstream culture, there is no doubt that Game of Thrones’ impressive legacy has added to the hype for its prequel amongst the mainstream audience that we identified in our study.

The Rings of Power

By contrast, The Rings of Power was the most popular amongst Gamers & Fantasy Fans, who made up 22% of the fanbase. These fans were then followed by Mainstream Entertainment Fans, Informed City-Dwellers and Avid TV Watchers, who made up 19.4%, 17.6% and 10.4% of the audience respectively. As a series that combines drama, action and fantasy, our analysis confirms that the show has appealed directly to audiences interested in these core genres.

Figure 3: Number of tweets surrounding each show in the lead up to their premieres.
Figure 3: Number of tweets surrounding each show in the lead up to their premieres.

The final takeaway is the presence of the Informed City-Dwellers tribe, which is the third largest audience interested in The Rings of Power. An older skewing audience sitting within the more professional stream, they are the third largest for this prequel, which suggests they were likely followers of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Overall, our analysis shows that The Rings of Power has been adopted by the hardcore fanbase of the original series, which has allowed it to amass a whopping 25 million viewers during its premiere.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that they had only released a limited number of episodes at the time of our study, it’s clear that these series have already garnered a huge amount of online engagement - within both the hardcore Fantasy circles and beyond.

In terms of how they compare to each other, we noticed more tweets and engagement around House of the Dragon compared to The Rings of Power, which suggests that the show is benefitting from the prior success of Game Of Thrones and confirming its prominence within mainstream culture.

As the prequels to iconic films and TV franchises, Gen Z and younger Millennials are generally less familiar with these shows’ legacies and yet, it seems that the sheer scale of these shows and the general hype around their release has been enough to attract younger audiences. The mass appeal of these novels-turned franchises speaks to an exciting opportunity for brands to tap into a genre that is transcending cultural and generational barriers. Both series are a testament to how brands can build on their legacy to attract new and existing audiences.

To learn how Fifty can help your brand tap into the growing fantasy audience, get in touch with us at [email protected].

More than Milk & Cookies: Who are the Americans Involved in Charities’ Busiest Season?

Comparing the diverse tribes involved in US charities during the Holiday season.

Related Articles

More than Milk & Cookies: Who are the Americans Involved in Charities’ Busiest Season?

Comparing the diverse tribes involved in US charities during the Holiday season.

Simon Shaw and Marcus Abbott on Bentley's Data-Driven Growth Strategy

How Fifty & Bentley collaborated to build the world’s largest study into the interests of High Net Worth Individuals.

Who is driving this year’s Black Friday frenzy?

Our top takeaways for engaging deal-seeking holiday shoppers.

Fifty Journeys: Ola

Meet our People Executive, Ola!

Notes for CMOs: Is crypto a trend to cash in on?

Don’t miss out on the hidden opportunities within crypto audiences

Are all gamers created equal?

Comparing the diverse audiences within the modern gaming community.

The Cost of Living Crisis Campaigners

Meet the Brits fighting back against soaring costs.