Rachel Brosnahan in a still from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Chris Ottinger, who led MGM’s distribution, will oversee the new division
The initiative kicks off at LA Screening, later in May
The movies and shows could be sold as cable TV, SVOD, and AVOD content
Amazon Originals series and content such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Hunters, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will be sold off to other streaming platforms and third-party media. The company confirmed the news with the launch of its new unit Amazon MGM Studios Distribution, a revamp of the existing MGM distribution team, which will now handle Amazon Studios projects as well. Chris Ottinger, who led the team for over a decade, will oversee the new division while continuing to sell MGM's catalogue including properties like James Bond, Rocky, and Creed.
“Pioneering the distribution of Amazon Originals for Amazon Studios is an exciting opportunity to bring fresh, never-before available quality content to audiences around the globe,” Ottinger said in a press release (via Variety). “In doing so, we will break through the current sales mould by creating custom packages that will fulfil our client's individual content needs.” The initiative is slated to kick off later this month at LA Screenings (international TV market), where the shows and movies will be potentially sold as free and basic cable TV, in addition to AVOD (ad-supported) and SVOD (subscription-based) content. The idea is to expand Amazon Prime Video content and generate more revenue by adding it to MGM's existing distribution setup.
Last year, Amazon acquired MGM for $8.5 billion (about Rs. 69,727 crore) to boost its Prime Video streaming service with over 4,000 new film titles and 17,000 TV episodes. As per Variety, Ottinger is also planning to shop some of Amazon's ‘off-platform offerings' as fresh, first-run content since some of the shows like 2016's Goliath never reached large audiences. “It's a great drama. I think most of the international audience probably hasn't seen it. Amazon wasn't that broadly distributed at that point,” he said in a prepared statement. Titles that were never measured via box office success or the Nielsen ratings in the US will still pose an issue when it comes to determining their ‘value' — when being sold off.
Back in January, Warner Bros. made a similar move by striking deals with Roku and Tubi, marking a big turnaround for Warner Bros. Discovery's portfolio, which was previously exclusive to HBO Max. The ad-supported channels brought Westworld onto the said third-party streaming platforms. The aforementioned Amazon MGM Studios Distribution announcement came in the wake of the ongoing writers' strike in Hollywood, which has brought several film and TV series productions to a halt. Residual payments for streaming content have been lower than those of broadcast TV — a big talking point in the strike. With Amazon's move towards syndication, we could possibly see a direct effect on writers' pay soon.
Rahul Chettiyar is a Sub-Editor at Gadgets 360 and writes about entertainment and video games. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, Sekiro and Elden Ring speed runs, and David Fincher video essays. Before joining here, he solely handled the gaming section at Indian Express Online. You can write to him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter and Letterboxd @Ch1ckenDumpl1ng