Streaming war: The business behind Amazon's mask bet "The Rings of Power"

Streaming war: The business behind Amazon’s mask bet “The Rings of Power”

The summary looks like this: A powerful being has accumulated a chest full of unlimited resources, watching the lives of everyone on Earth with its all-seeing eye. Now he will make the final strike to defeat his opponents forever.

No, not Sauron. This is Amazon.

September 2, Amazon Prime Video premieres Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power in nearly 240 countries and regions around the world.

The series is based in part on the Appendices, a collection of stories at the end of the book. The return of the kingOutline a detailed previous history of Middle-earth, by JRR Tolkien. several thousand years before the events the hobbit, Rings of Power They have a large roster of new and classic characters, flashy special effects, and a massive marketing campaign.

to attract attention, Inc. mobilized a unique navy of hardware and media assets. Amazon Books, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Amazon Fire TV, which contribute to the initiative, run Tolkien-linked synergetic promotions such as discounts on original books or series images printed on shopping bags. “We were bombarded with advertisements”Andrew Rosen, founder of Parqor, a streaming analytics service, summed it up.

Amazon Prime Video, The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power debuts in nearly 240 countries and territories worldwide

When audiences last encountered Tolkien’s fantasy universe, their protagonists were fighting in Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptations. Lord of the Rings Y the hobbitwhere to bravely knit against orcs, cave trolls, balrogs, ring ghosts or winged beasts.

Now these creatures are faced with a not-so-medieval yet challenging task: raise Amazon’s position in the turmoil streaming wars.

If the task fails, we should assume: heads will roll At the Battle of the Black Gate.

what is at stake Rings of Power It seems unusually extreme, even for a company that made nearly $470 billion in sales last year. Founder and CEO of Amazon from the beginning, Jeff BezosA superfan of Tolkien, he was personally involved in the project.

In 2017, the company beat rivals to prevail in negotiations with Tolkien’s heirs, New Line Cinema, and publisher HarperCollins. paid US$250 million for the rights to five television seasons and a possible spin-off.

Last year, the New Zealand government, where most of the show was filmed, Amazon will spend about $465 million for the first season alone. estimated cost Rings of Power It could be the most expensive program in history, at over US$1 billion. “It’s a big, big draw,” says Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst at NSCreen Media, a media research firm. “Obviously they were thinking globally when they agreed to do it.”

Prime Video has been available free of charge to customers who have subscribed to the Prime service since its inception in 2011. 200 million members worldwide. But the streaming service Netflix Inc., which has 220 million subscribers despite its recent struggles. left behind by Disney+ already has 152 million and that just started in 2019.

No audience research, abandonment rates, or direct sales figures. It has always been difficult to measure exactly how much value Amazon is extracting from the service.

The House of the Dragon: Now every major service desperately follows its own comic or fantasy epic that can produce endless spin-offs with cross-cultural appeal.

The company has already tried several original planning strategies. In the early days of Prime Video, it tried to subvert the established way of Hollywood. produce series that appeal to collective contributions through a web portal Anyone can upload scenarios in exchange for reviews, prizes, and cash prizes. The experiment produced several success stories and was short-lived.

Amazon has reverted to the more traditional model under Roy Price. A manager with a taste for tackling prestigious and unconventional TV series like Transparent anyone Mozart in the woodscritically acclaimed but did not capture large audiences.

Afterwards, Bezos changed his strategy again and lost his managers. find the equivalent game of Thrones, HBO’s popular fantasy series that later dominated entertainment in the US and around the world. In 2018, Amazon hired Jennifer Salke, a former TV broadcast specialist, to identify and produce great projects with broad and global appeal. Since then, the company has created a handful of popular hits such as: mena series of superheroes based on a comic book.

The final decision on how to get big will be made in these weeks. Eight-episode first season Rings of Power It will be powered by the service’s redesigned interface and will likely draw in new viewers as Thursday’s NFL games arrive on Prime Video. that after the encounters they could be led to Middle-earth.

If Amazon is to succeed, it will do without Jackson, who, despite grossing $1.85 billion from six films and winning the best picture Oscar, was not part of the spin. in a 2012 interview with WorldChristopher Tolkien, former manager of the Tolkien estate, who passed away in 2020, He claimed that Jackson “inhaled” his father’s work.

Amazon got into a war with writer-producers Patrick McKay and JD Payne.

Rings of Power It comes at a highly competitive time in the streaming industry. The domestic market in the US is largely saturated and growers are now looking abroad for growth. The Marvel Cinematic Universe helped accelerate Disney+’s rapid international breakthrough, so now all major services are desperately following your own comic book or fantasy epic that can produce inexhaustible by-products with cross-cultural appeal. These gigantic projects have already started running. Rings of PowerWhat Sand man on Netflix (released August 5) She-Hulk: Defender of Heroes On Disney+ (August 18) and The House of the Dragon (August 21).

If these new proto-franchises fail, fall 2022 will be remembered as: The pinnacle of expensive TV as producers adjust their spending habits downward against the accumulation of losses in an overcrowded market.

But if they’re successful, this drop may go down in history as: the beginning of the age of streaming TV tanks, when big-budget fantasies in search of an international audience begin to exclude other niche genres.

Despite some initial concerns, Tolkien super fans thumbs up. “People have been saying for years that Amazon is a huge, soulless company that will destroy Tolkien,” said Corey Olsen, a Tolkien expert and host of The Tolkien Professor podcast. There was a lot of distrust among the fans.”

In May, to address these concerns and increase interest in the series, Amazon has invited a group of Tolkien influencers and experts to London. There they can see the progress Rings of Power and bombard McKay and Payne with questions about the features of Middle-earth. In July, Amazon hosted many of the same people at San Diego Comic-Con, where 6,500 fans filled a convention hall to watch Stephen Colbert run a table with nearly a dozen cast, writer-producer, and executive producer Lindsey Weber.

Olsen tells Many of his colleagues backed off, cleared of their suspicions. “It gave me confidence that, from Tolkien’s point of view, the show was really in good hands. It’s so exciting, epic, legendary stuff.”

Bezos’ eyes were definitely watching.

This note was published in the 346th issue of Apertura magazine.

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