Amazon Studios European Boss Talks Streamer's Global TV Strategy
The company is ramping up its international production to keep pace with Netflix.
Compared to Netflix, Amazon has been slow to ramp up its slate of international originals. The Amazon Prime streaming service currently has only a handful of foreign-made originals — including U.K. car show The Grand Tour, German crime dramas You Are Wanted and Beat and cricket-themed Inside Edge in India. But, as Amazon Studios' European boss Georgia Brown made clear, the company is moving fast to catch up.
Speaking at the INTV conference in Jerusalem on Monday, Brown said she planned to have a “head of scripted and a head of non-scripted programming” on the ground in each of the country's main European territories within the next six months. Unscripted teams will come first, Brown said, noting that she expects to have unscripted commissioners in place in France and Germany by April.
Amazon already has its U.K. team in place, having just appointed Fleabag producer Lydia Hampson to oversee its scripted drive in the territory and Dan Grabiner, formerly head of development for Brit-based ITN Productions, as its commissioner for non-scripted content in the U.K.
Amazon has also unveiled its first major U.K. commission: A series adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s dystopian bestseller The Power, which Jane Featherstone’s British indie Sister Pictures will produce together with The Handmaid Tale’s Reed Morano exec producing. Amazon has also cemented its ties with British creative powerhouse Neil Gaiman, adapting his novel Good Omens, which he co-wrote with the late Terry Pratchett, and inking an exclusive TV development deal with the author for future projects.
But Brown was keen to emphasis the importance of local appeal to any of the original shows it commissions.
“We want our shows to be local, to have a huge impact on their local audiences,” Brown said, noting “you can't design a show for an international audience.”
She pointed to Our Man In… Japan, a new non-scripted travel show featuring The Grand Tour co-host James May, which began filming Monday. The six-part program will see May travel the length of Japan in an attempt to understand the country, people and culture. Our Man In... Japan will be the first of planned solo show with The Grand Tour hosts, including Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.
Brown also made a clear distinction between Amazon's approach to commissioning and financing original series and that of some of its competitors. She stressed the streamer is not in the business of “warehousing rights for producers” by buying out rights worldwide for shows it decides to produce. “We're very flexible, we don't have a template or a one size fits all, each production has to be different,” Brown said. Amazon has also been an active co-producer with traditional broadcasters on shows such as Good Omens with BBC and dramedy Catastrophe with Channel 4.
“We generally start with a story and work backwards,” Brown said. “Of course if we think it's a story with global potential we'll try and negotiate a deal.”