Amazon Studios is a lead disruptor in the video space and a number of broadcasters may look on in fear at its financial heft. Roy Price, the vice president of Amazon studios, talking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, perhaps solidified these fears.
Price underlined an ambition to buckle down with more original content as momentum gathers in the wake of it having to its name an Oscar winning movie in Manchester by the Sea and and a Golden Globe accolade as a result of Transparent.
But it is shows like HBO's enormously successful Game of Thrones that has caught his eye. He said: "Game of Thrones is to television what Jaws was to movies in the 1970s," before adding, "we're going to get one of those shows. Or more than one."
Next he outlined a regret at not having ownership of strong dramas like the Crown, the Handmaid's Tale, and the Young Pope, although it's own catalogue is not to be sniffed at with it including the likes of The Man in the High Castle, Transparent and Sneaky Pete.
But in addition to this, the company last year grabbed long-endured TV trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May following their BBC Top Gear kerfuffle to feature in its globe-spanning auto adventure, the Grand Tour. A signal of intent from Amazon that it was willing to put its money where its mouth in the acquisition of talent – a deal chief executive Jeff Bezos dubbed "very expensive, but worth it" without disclosing the financials.
On the performance of this show, Price said: "We're super happy with The Grand Tour, it has the scale we're looking for." Notably however, viewing figures around the show have been kept under wraps although it has undeniable international appeal alike the hunger for Top Gear before it.
Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt who was chairing the event issued a humourous barb at the BBC, posing the following question to Price: "What on earth would possess you to acquire a BBC show?”
During the talk, Price also outlined that they studios will “definitely explore” live sport, a finding that will further distance it from video streaming rival Netflix and could make broadcasters wary, although the likes of Disney's ESPN are repositioning with bespoke subscription based services to accommodate the digital-first audiences. He said: "People love sports. It’s big, engaging and motivates people so it’s a good opportunity."
Price also unveiled that the company is moving away from the sluggish pilot process that could slow down its accumulation of original content. "The marketplace is competitive and often you just have to go to series, both from a timing point of view and from a competitive point of view…we still have customer feedback, but will probably have fewer pilots for sure."
On top of that he added an intent to snap up UK shows: "We have a strong presence here. Great British shows can travel around the world."