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The Ratings Battle Between Middle-Earth And Westeros Has Crowned A Winner

"House of the Dragon" and "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" have been in an exhaustive battle of the ages since their end-of-summer dueling debuts. Both series set out with similar goals of restoring faith to their once esteemed franchises. Many fans of both "Game of Thrones" and "The Hobbit" felt scorned and naturally were uneasy about returning to their fantastical worlds. 

The infamous conclusion of "Game of Thrones" was seemingly universally loathed by viewers with an abysmal 30% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, they were so upset with the clumsy character development of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) that a petition was formed to remake the final season, which is still receiving signatures to this. Wanderers of Middle Earth suffered a similar fate with "The Lord of the Rings" prologue series "The Hobbit" which needlessly transformed the standalone novel into a bloated three-film saga. 

With these new prequels expanding their respective worlds, each studio aimed to take viewers on a more fulfilling epic that features better storytelling (notably the creators of "Game of Thrones" aren't involved), extremely extravagant production values, and more diverse characters. These were mostly met with positive receptions (aside from a few ignorant exceptions) which boasted promising starts for each new series. However, as we pass each first season's halfway point, we have a clear winner from the staggering viewership numbers.

The dragon roars louder than the orcs

After five episodes of vying for the top spot, we finally have a crowned winner — and they're sitting atop the Iron Throne. "The House of the Dragon" has attracted a larger audience than the orc slaying fantasy adventure. In a disappointing turn for Amazon Prime, Middle Earth has become more thinly populated than the crowded streets of King's Landing. 

As reported by Esquire, HBO's "House of the Dragon" roared onto screens with a record-breaking 29 million viewers incinerating Amazon's global 25 million for "The Rings of Power." The dragon-packed installment would consistently accumulate even more formerly-scorched fans as the series climbed in viewership, while the conversation around the "Lord of the Rings" prequel has already started to fizzle out. Esquire's eye-opening analysis credits this distinction to the sprawling narrative of "Rings of Power" that has yet to connect, where "House of the Dragon" interwove its characters from the start.

The creators behind "House of the Dragon" seemed to have learned a few things from their poorly received "Game of Thrones" conclusion. The overwhelmingly positive reception for Season 1 confidently propelled them into a speedy Season 2 renewal, where Amazon may have some wrinkles to iron out before they return to New Zealand — considering they produced the most expensive show of all time (via CNBC). As these competing epics come to a close, can one ring redeem the inordinately expensive program or will it be devoured entirely by the dragon?