The Indian market contributed 12 per cent to Video’s Lords of the Rings: Rings of Power premiere viewership, according to data from Ormax Media, a Mumbai-based media analytics and consultancy firm. The show achieved over 25 million global viewers on its first day, the over-the-top (OTT) platform said on Monday, marking the biggest premiere in its history.

The show debuted on Friday in over 240 countries and territories, including India.

According to Shailesh Kapoor, co-founder and chief executive officer, Ormax Media, nearly 7.3 million people from India tuned in to watch the show between Friday and Sunday. This translates into three million accounts since two-three people typically watch OTT shows via one account.

“We estimate that over 25 million global viewers could be subscriptions or accounts which tuned in to watch the show. Basis that, three million accounts tuning in from India is significant,” said Kapoor.

An e-mail sent to Video elicited no response until the time of going to press. Globally, Rings of Power has been billed as Amazon Prime’s answer to the popular Game of Thrones franchise, which was produced by HBO. It concluded in May 2019 after running for eight years from 2011.

According to experts, India ranked among the top four most-excited markets for Game of Thrones, which was available on Disney+ Hotstar. It was a big draw for Hotstar viewers, besides the Indian Premier League and international cricket in general. The show’s prequel House of The Dragon, which premiered last month globally, saw nearly 10 million viewers, according to HBO. The network, however, did not provide a break-up of viewership across markets.

Even then, India is emerging as a big hub for international OTT content, which experts say is partly because of the growing base of OTT viewers in India, especially subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) users.

“Despite price hikes undertaken late last year and alternative entertainment options coming back on cinemas and television, growth in SVOD subscriptions in India remain buoyant. The market has already surpassed 100 million subscriptions. It will close the 2022 calendar year with 122 million subscriptions, clocking $1 billion in revenue,” said Mihir Shah, vice-president, Media Partners Asia.

According to Kapoor, the availability of international OTT content in local dubs is prompting viewers from across cities to sample these shows. “Viewers are tuning in not only from metro cities but also smaller towns. The audience base will grow as a result,” he said.

The aspirational value of the content, as well as the massive scale of production, is also drawing viewer interest, some experts said. For instance, Amazon Prime has invested an estimated $1 billion on the project, including $250 million for the rights to the franchise, in an effort to compete against streaming giants, such as Netflix and Walt Disney Company’s Disney+.

The platform also had a worldwide promotional campaign for the show, taking the cast and crew to cities, such as Mumbai, Los Angeles, New York, and London. There is a reason for this action.

Global OTT platforms are increasingly turning to blockbuster shows to grab viewer attention. Rival Netflix has its own universe of shows, such as Stranger Things, which is currently into its fourth season and remains popular among viewers. Netflix recently said the new season of Stranger Things helped reduce subscriber losses for the streaming service worldwide and that it would keep the franchise going for now.

Another popular Netflix show Money Heist completed five seasons in December last year. Netflix has already indicated that it is working on a spinoff series of Money Heist, which may arrive by next year. While Disney+ has a combination of sports, fictional shows, and movies from the Marvel stable to keep viewers engaged.

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