‘Game of Thrones’ v. ‘Lord of the Rings’: The greatest battle in fantasy TV history is here

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Fantasy stories have become the stuff of prestige TV in recent years. This isn’t to say the genre wasn’t always prestigious, but now features like the sandman and The Witcher get bigger budgets and bigger stars than ever before. No doubt this is due to the wild success of Game of Thronesbut even that show owed a little bit of its appeal and popularity to another fantasy franchise: Under the spell of the Ring. Over the next two weeks, the two will go head-to-head – shaping the future of television in the process.

Frankly, this confrontation has little to do with it either House of the Dragon (the thrones prequel launching Sunday) or The rings of power (the following Lord of the Rings show) and anything to do with the condition of the TV itself. In the time since HBO announced it was a Game of Thrones spin-off parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery, creating a company that seems more inclined to run a lean operation than blow up millions pointy chairs. In the meantime, Rings of Powerwhich launches on September 2, will air on Amazon Prime, a streaming service with seemingly limitless resources.

Both shows have the potential to become hits, but their ability to manifest may depend on how long they remain funded. As The New York Times noticed this weekHBO’s new business leaders, Discovery executives, have a crushing debt burden of $53 billion and they are looking for savings – in other words, high costs thrones spin-offs should pay off better… Will two smashing, big-budget fantasy series be too much for some viewers?

This creates a strange dichotomy. Game of ThronesLet’s face it, didn’t end well. Public opinion on the final was lukewarm at best, but it still received a lot of attention. HBO has green-lit its prequel as a way to get more viewers out of the franchise — and now the network needs them more than ever. Amazon, on the other hand, ordered The rings of power partly because Jeff Bezos is a huge JRR Tolkien fan and Jeff Bezos can do whatever he wants with his billions.


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