The multi-billion pound box sets battle – as Apple takes on Netflix and Amazon
‘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.
Rufus Sewell and Luke Kleintank in The Man In The High Castle. Left: Westworld