HBO's "Game of Thrones" prequel series "House of Dragon" has been renewed for a second season after its massive debut, Amazon Prime's "The Rings of Power" becomes most expensive series ever made, and NBC is reportedly considering trimming its primetime hours to cut costs.
- All right, well, shifting gears here, no pun intended. But after a record breaking premiere seen by 10 million people, HBO Max is already doubling down on its new series "House of The Dragon." Ali Canal is here with the latest.
I watched it. I love all things "Game of Thrones." Ali, what can you tell us?
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Well, Rochelle, then you're going to be very happy, because after less than a week, "House of The Dragon" has officially been greenlit for season two. As you mentioned, we saw a blockbuster premiere on Sunday, 9.99 million viewers tuning in for the debut across both HBO and HBO Max, and that's the largest audience for a series premiere in HBO's history. And after just four days, the show has already amassed 20 million viewers.
So HBO, they're betting really big on this series. They paid a lot of money for it. The first season alone cost between $15 to $20 million per episode, and the platform reportedly spent over $100 million on just the marketing. And that's the biggest marketing campaign ever for HBO, which is interesting.
If you take a look at the whole business of Warner Brothers Discovery, they've been aggressively slashing costs in other areas. Just last week, WBD laid off 14% of its HBO Max workforce in addition to cutting six animated programs from the lineup. David Zaslav really committed to slashing $3 billion worth of costs over the next two years in anticipation of that new combined platform with Discovery Plus and HBO Max, so that's slated to debut next summer. But so far, "House of The Dragon" is definitely safe and not going anywhere anytime soon.
- All right, I can't wait to watch the next couple of episodes. Speaking of streaming platforms and franchises, what do we know about this "Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power" series?
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Well, this series is by far the most expensive series ever made. If you take a look at the numbers here, the budget alone for season one was about $465 million with the rights reportedly costing an additional $250 million, and the rights are really what's going to be key here. Apparently, Jeff Bezos, he's a huge "Lord of the Rings" fan. Who knew? He was heavily involved in this pitch process, because Amazon really wants to create this larger than life franchise.
They want to be able to compete with HBO, with "Game of Thrones." So think spinoffs, think sequels, prequels, merchandise. That's really the goal here, and they're sinking a lot of money into this project to get it done. So this is another highly anticipated one. It's going to start rolling out September 2, so mark your calendars.
- I mean, really, the budget for that, completely eye watering. I've watched all of them and will continue to watch every single spin off to do with "Lord of The Rings." Now, Ali, there was also a report, though, in the Wall Street Journal that NBC might be looking to actually trim some of its primetime programming. What are you hearing there, and what would the implications be?
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, well, I did reach out for NBC for comment. They said they do not comment on speculation, but a spokesperson did give me the following. They said, "While NBC is a number one network, we are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible. As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content that they love across broadcast, cable, and streaming."
So to me, this does signal that we could see some changes, and I really wouldn't be surprised. The media landscape has drastically shifted. We saw streaming officially surpass both cable and broadcast. In terms of total viewing for the month of July, there's been an acceleration of cord cutting, a decline in ad revenue, and the only thing that's really kept cable alive is sports, right?
So sports is the main focus here. But sports, it costs a lot of money. And if NBC were to rejigger their prime time slots, that would save them a lot of money in the long run.
Right now, the Journal says, it would be that programming between 10:00 to 11:00 PM that would be impacted with those hours then going to local TV stations, but we'll see what happens. There's still a lot that could go on between now and when this is expected to roll out in Fall 2023, so another thing that we have to watch in the cable and the streaming wars.
- Such a transitional period for the cable and streaming industries. Ali, good to see you. Have a good weekend, my friend.