The multi-bil­lion pound box sets bat­tle – as Ap­ple takes on Net­flix and Ama­zon

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - TV SPECIAL -

‘When we win a Golden Globe it helps sell more shoes’

When Ama­zon launched its Top Gear re­boot, The Grand Tour, in a blaze of pub­lic­ity, it seemed like this was the plat­form’s only piece of orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming worth shout­ing about. Se­cur­ing the ser­vices of TV’s un­holy trin­ity of Clark­son, Ham­mond and May didn’t come cheap. At a re­puted cost of £4.5mil­lion per episode, The Grand Tour snaf­fled a fair chunk of the Ama­zon TV bud­get in one fell swoop.

But the videostream­ing mar­ket is rapidly es­ca­lat­ing. Net­flix may be the leader, bud­get­ing $7 bil­lion for pro­gram­ming in 2018, but Ama­zon is now se­ri­ously in­volved and spend­ing $4.5bn this year. Just a few of its lat­est com­mis­sions in­clude Mad Men cre­ator Matthew Weiner’s The Ro­manoffs, a show about the mod­ern-day de­scen­dants of the Rus­sian royal fam­ily, and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, with David Ten­nant and Michael Sheen.

And it’s not just Ama­zon that is rais­ing its game to stem the tide at Net­flix. Ap­ple is the lat­est to stick its hand up for some of the ac­tion, an­nounc­ing its first big com­mis­sion, Amaz­ing Sto­ries, a sci-fi se­ries from Steven Spiel­berg. Just as Ama­zon uses Prime Video to piggy-back on to cus­tomers us­ing its shop­ping ser­vices (‘When we win a Golden Globe it helps us sell more shoes,’ quips CEO Jeff Be­zos), so Ap­ple hopes to take ad­van­tage of its bil­lion de­vices in ac­tive use around the world. Cur­rently rent­ing out shows through iTunes, Ap­ple will now move to a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice.

The holy grail for Ama­zon will be a jug­ger­naut show that at­tracts sig­nif­i­cant new cus­tom. That was par­tially achieved with The Grand Tour, which launches se­ries two on De­cem­ber 8. Af­ter po­si­tion­ing it­self with niche se­ries such as Trans­par­ent, Ama­zon’s David is now ready to take on Net­flix’s Go­liath and push for mass-ap­peal dra­mas such as The Crown in the mother of all stream­ing bat­tles.

It’s clear that what Ama­zon needs most is the next Game Of Thrones. And with it a new com­pany mantra: win­ter is com­ing for Net­flix.

Mark Ware­ham

Ru­fus Sewell and Luke Klein­tank in The Man In The High Cas­tle. Left: West­world

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