If the packed to the rafters status of the MIPCOM keynote session featuring Amazon’s European Originals team is anything to go by, the interest from the international content community in the streamer and its programming strategy is still at fever pitch.
The Media Masterminds session, featuring Georgia Brown (pictured), director of originals for Europe, and James Ferrell, head of international originals, tackled what’s working for the European and international outposts for the global streamer, what isn’t on the content wishlist, and even included a pitch for applicants interested in joining the scripted originals team.
From an unscripted perspective, while Amazon’s crown jewel in the genre remains The Grand Tour, the streamer is still looking for more sizable contenders in the space. Recent commissions of the Endemol Shine format Celebrity Hunted for Italy and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for Japan point towards the types of formats Amazon is embracing. Engrossing plot lines, characters and story arcs that draw audiences in – as with scripted properties – work, and can be offered via different release models than the standard streaming practice of offering up a full season to binge.
However, according to Brown, “Competing in the shiny floor space would be difficult for us… It doesn’t seem to be the thing our audience looks to us for.”
Both Brown and Farrell emphasized the importance of Amazon customers completing seasons. Said Farrell of The Bachelor‘s performance in Japan, “One of the key data points we looked at was how many people are making it to the end and that was phenomenal.”
When it comes to data and its place in development at Amazon, Brown said that there isn’t a “big red data button” driving the process and that the team opts for good, old-fashioned gut reaction when evaluating pitches. The team is also conscious of allocating resources efficiently and steering away from flooding Amazon Prime users with original content, with Farrell framing the strategy as a “quality play, not a quantity play” and Brown stating: “We never want to give shows to our customers that they won’t absolutely adore.”
When it comes to documentary, Brown said sports is a genre that works well from a non-fiction standpoint internationally, and one can look at recent football-oriented commissions for evidence of that claim. “It’s definitely a genre we are very focused on, as it has a very passionate customer base for us,” she said.
Talent-led docs have also featured prominently on the U.S. Amazon Prime slate, but according to Brown, talent “isn’t the be all and end all. We will have some projects announced over the next few months with no major talent involved.” While not revealing much more about those projects, Brown did say they should prove to be provocative.
“We are tackling topics that other broadcasters haven’t been brave enough to do,” she offered.