With “Game of Thrones” ending this year, the fight for the TV nerd throne is heating up.
So far, Amazon and Netflix have emerged as the two leading contenders to produce the next Westeros-caliber hit.
This week Amazon ordered a series adaptation of the epic “Wheel of Time” fantasy series, and yesterday Netflix announced a development deal for shows and movies based on the classic “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise.
The rivalry has been brewing for a while now: Amazon already has a “Lord of the Rings” TV series on the way, and Netflix is prepping an adaptation of fantasy franchise “The Witcher,” starring Henry Cavill.
The new shows mark major investments for the streaming platforms — Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” deal cost a cool $250 million for the rights alone. The question is whether audience appetite for fantasy is still going strong, or is the fascination fading with the last of the White Walkers?
The forecast is mixed. While “Game of Thrones” has grown over the years to become the biggest show in the world, other fantasy series, such as Syfy’s “The Magicians,” regularly dip below 1 million weekly viewers. Meanwhile, two other once-buzzy fantasy adaptations — Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” and MTV’s “The Shannara Chronicles” — both were canceled this year.
So far, “Game of Thrones” has been the exception, not the norm.
Time will tell if Amazon and Netflix beat the odds, or if their costly gambles burn out in a blaze of dragon fire.