Jane Featherstone, producer of ITV’s mystery thriller Broadchurch and Channel 4 and AMC’s sci-fi drama Humans, warned that global streaming services including Netflix and Amazon are set to “turn off” the international co-production tap during the next 18 months.
Sister Pictures founder Featherstone, while giving the annual BAFTA Television Lecture tonight in London, said the move will lead to fewer nuanced dramas as these SVOD services stop working with such broadcasters as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
“We have recently greeted new and intrepid visitors keen to draw on our resources, which is where this irreversible change comes in,” she said.
“Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google — or, to give them their Bond villain name, Faang — have brought a stream of money with budgets escalating and demand for A-list talent sky high,” she added. “Already some of the shows on the BBC are funded 80% by Netflix.”
The former Kudos CEO said international broadcasters needed to address the problem as these services look to control all global rights.
“Going forward, subtlety will be replaced by less nuance,” Featherstone said. “The co-production tap is going to be turned off or at least reduced to a trickle – it’s already happening with The Crown or The Innocents, and I reckon we’ve got a year or 18 months before the big Faang players stop co-producing entirely.”
The Liz Murdoch-backed Sister Pictures, established by Featherstone in January 2016, is involved in a slew of international co-productions. Nuclear disaster drama Chernobyl is the first co-production between HBO and Sky since the two companies signed a $250M pact; Giri/Haji is an eight-part crime drama set between London and Tokyo and produced for BBC One and Netflix; Hulu and Channel 4 teamed for six-part comedy series The Bisexual, from Iranian-American writer-director Desiree Akhavan; and Abi Morgan-penned relationship drama The Split, starring Episodes’ Stephen Mangan, is produced for BBC One and Sundance TV.
Elsewhere, Sister Pictures is developing global murder mystery Pandora for AMC. The project, written by Humans writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, is one of three being considered by the cable network as part of its “scripts to series” initiative.
Featherstone tonight also urged the TV business to “root out” problems of sexual harassment in light of the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and others. She said hiring more female directors, writers and talent in lead roles would help.
“I’m sure television does have a problem; it happens wherever there are men in positions of power and women in vulnerable positions,” she said. “What we need to do is to be vigilant; we need to name it and expel it. We have to be shameless about that. It’s staggering it’s taken so long, there’s something so corrective going on.”