It was probably a coincidence that Agnes Chu, SVP, content, for Disney+, was seated next to Craig Erwich, SVP content for Hulu, at today’s panel titled “The Streamers: Meet the Buyers” at today’s Produced By Conference 2019 at Warner Bros. in Burbank.
Still, the connection between the two was front and center at the panel moderated by Chris Thomes, VP of marketing strategy for ABC Studios, which brought together voices from established television platforms and newer digital players.
In fact, it was not Thomes, but panelist Sanders who brought up the obvious. Sanders asked: Since Disney now effectively controls Hulu as well as Disney+, the Disney streaming service planned to launch in November, will the two share notes on content and new projects?
“We just had this conversation right before we came on stage,” said Chu. “We have a great deal with a documentary team, Supper Club…making exclusive content for Disney+. But part of the conversation with them is, if they have a great series that would be a better fit for Hulu, we would love to introduce them.”
Added Chu: “(We are) just getting started. We are getting to a place where we can have a very fluid conversation across our platforms.”
“I agree,” said Erwich, his only comment on that question.
Otherwise, the panel was dominated by discussion of how each platform represented on the panel plans to continue differentiating themselves in the crowded TV landscape.
Even though Disney+ has yet to launch, Chu described the streaming service as a “Disney branded entertainment service,” relying on content from its brands and the current creators of those brands. “People know what our brands stand for,” she said.
She mentioned in particular producer Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, who is also the creative force behind several Marvel Disney series in development for Disney+. She added, however, that these existing creative teams will bring new talent into the Disney+ fold.
Chu also mentioned the previously announced series executive produced by Gina Rodriguez, Diary of a Female President, about a 12-year-old girl who aspires to be president of the United States.
Erwich said Hulu is always looking for not just the show that a friend will tell you about, but “ the show a stranger will tell you about.” He added that Hulu is also focused on streamlining the viewer experience to make content easy to locate and search “in as easy and quick a way as possible.”
Amazon Studios’ Sanders reassured the audience that Amazon content remains separate from Amazon’s identity as a shopping behemoth. With a laugh, he warned eager producers attending today’s conference not to pitch him shows with a shopping component. He said that Amazon chief Jennifer Salke sees the studio as a “destination home for talent. In the beginning (as an online bookseller) the company started with being a home for storytelling. We very much want to be a home for storytelling,” he said.
Wright said that as EPIX expands to new platforms it will maintain its identity as “TV for movie lovers.” EPIX fans, he said, find that studios are not making the kind of adult-themed narratives and complex stories EPIX fans crave. He said the approach is not to shoot for programming to attract all potential audiences but to be “as noisy as we can be to specific constituents.”