While new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has stressed multiple times that the streaming company will not be in the volume business, it certainly did not look that way at her TCA debut for Amazon today where she announced no less than four new series orders, one of them for two seasons. The new shows come from the Russo brothers, Greg Daniels, Lena Waithe and Nicole Kidman.
“You won’t see some giant volume play,” Salke said during Amazon Studio’s executive session. “I think of us as an alternative to some of those places.”
“We want to reach a lot of people, but we don’t want to compromise on quality,” she said. “There is a limited number of truly great things. Luckily, we are at a company that would never stop us from buying anything, that embraces big swings.” \
Added co-head of television Albert Cheng, “It’s not about volume, it’s about what you can find that is buzz-worthy, relevant and would drive subscribers.”
Both Salke and co-head of television Vernon Sanders stressed that the goal is to build Amazon Studios as a home for talent.
What is behind Amazon’s greenlight spree over the last two months under Amazon’s new top executive team led by Salke?
“We want to get as many big hits in the pipeline as soon as possible,” she said.
As to how that will be done, Salke once again confirmed that Amazon’s original pilot season format, that featured all pilots uploaded on the platform for viewer feedback, is gone.
“I never say never but now that version is not what we are doing,” she said, “We still are investing in pilots but we will use own testing barometers.”
Added Cheng, “It took too long from voting to greenlight, we want to get shows to customers faster.”
Salke also unveiled that Amazon is in the process of upgrading the Prime Video user interface, which has been a source of frustration for consumers. She gave high marks to a prototype of the new app which she has installed on her phone.
With Salke, the first woman to head a major streaming service, flanked by Cheng and Sanders, Amazon had one of the most diverse executive panels we’ve seen at TCA. That likely prompted a discussion about diversity from critics.
“We’ve moved on from ‘diversity is good business’,” Salke said, noting that Amazon Video is in a slew of international markets, including Brazil, India and Japan. “We have a very diverse customer base, and that should be reflected in our shows.”