'The Rings of Power' isn't just a TV show for Amazon — it's another way for the company to dominate every aspect of your life
- "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is more than just a TV show for Amazon.
- Amazon spent nearly $500 million just to make "The Rings of Power."
Amazon said that 25 million global viewers watched the first two episodes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" in their first day of release last week — which means that millions of people were likely subjected to other Amazon "experiences."
That's because "The Rings of Power" — which Amazon spent nearly $500 million to produce and is a Jeff Bezos passion project — isn't just a TV show for the company. It's another way for it to dominate every aspect of our lives.
As part of the larger Amazon ecosystem, Prime Video isn't just a typical streaming service. It's part of a grand cross-promotional effort with other Amazon products. If you receive a package from Amazon, odds are that the box is marketing an Amazon original series.
"The Rings of Power" is the peak of this effort when it comes to Amazon's TV aspirations. It's its biggest series so far, both in terms of budget as well as a pre-existing fanbase and name recognition.
The show's page on Prime Video directs audiences to more of what Amazon has to offer — from the show's soundtrack on Amazon Music, to reading the "Lord of the Rings" books on Kindle or listening to them through Audible. The first audiobook, "Fellowship of the Ring," is free on Alexa through Oct. 13. And the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movie trilogies are both available on Prime Video with a subscription.
But wait, there's more: after watching episodes, fans can get "Lord of the Rings" inspired food recipes from Alexa and then try them out through Amazon's grocery retail service, Amazon Fresh.
Amazon dropped big money on "The Rings of Power"; beyond its hefty production budget, it also spent $250 million just for the rights and millions more on marketing expenses. The total cost for season one has been estimated to be around $1 billion.
Amazon obviously wants Prime Video to be a top streaming contender. But for tech giants like Amazon and Apple making a splash in the streaming space, they're not spending top dollar just to rack up more subscriptions (though that's an added bonus). It's about creating a pipeline from streaming, to retail, to other services.
Disney could be taking a page from Amazon's book in that regard. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Disney is considering a membership program that packages its streaming platforms, parks, and merchandise that is referred to internally as "Disney Prime."
Is that the future of streaming? Not quite. Amazon and Apple — and even Disney — are uniquely positioned for dominating so many aspects of a consumer's attention. Netflix is a streaming business; it's not looking to be Amazon.
But Amazon will continue to expand its influence, including with live sports — which are currently among the biggest telecasts on traditional broadcast networks.
It already bought the rights to Thursday Night Football, a deal that kicked off last month with pre-season games. (The first regular-season game is next week.) And it's in contention for NFL Sunday Ticket. Apple is, too, and it already secured a Friday-night MLB package.
Yes, "The Rings of Power" needs to be a hit in order to justify Amazon's exorbitant spending on the series — and its premiere was already the company's biggest yet.
But it would be unwise to think of its success (or, somehow, failure) in terms of a typical TV show, because it's not one.
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