Wanted: The great Cana­dian TV show


StarMetro Vancouver - - DAILY LIFE - Tony Wong

Some of the pro­jects that Ama­zon’s head of in­ter­na­tional orig­i­nals James Far­rell has green­lighted in­clude In­dia's Mirza­pur and the Ja­panese ver­sion of The Bach­e­lor. Canada is next on Far­rell’s list, where there is cur­rently no Ama­zon Prime Orig­i­nals. James Far­rell is a global broad­caster in the truest sense of the word.

In Oc­to­ber, he was in­stalled as the head of In­ter­na­tional Orig­i­nals for Ama­zon Prime Video, re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing con­tent for the stream­ing ser­vice for Europe, Ja­pan, In­dia, Mex­ico, Brazil and fu­ture world mar­kets.

Far­rell’s ap­point­ment bodes well for Cana­dian showrun­ners. For one thing, he lived in Toronto for four years as an ex­ec­u­tive at Sony tele­vi­sion. And his wife is Cana­dian, so he has a deep un­der­stand­ing of the mar­ket. And he says he is in­tent on shin­ing a light on some other sec­tors of the world, in­clud­ing Canada, where there are cur­rently no Ama­zon Prime Orig­i­nals.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there isn’t a short­cut in the busi­ness. You don’t just show up some­where and some­body tells you to buy this re­ally awe­some show,” says Far­rell in an ex­clu­sive Cana­dian in­ter­view with the Star. “There are no short­age of good ideas glob­ally. But you have to go knock on a few doors.”

Make no mis­take: Far­rell is a four-star gen­eral in a stream­ing war be­tween two mega-gi­ants. In one cor­ner the in­cum­bent Net­flix with more than 137 mil­lion sub­scribers, in the other cor­ner Ama­zon with an James Far­rell says Ama­zon is on the look­out for “a pro­gram that can get Cana­di­ans en­gaged.”

es­ti­mated 100 mil­lion for Prime.

While Net­flix is the mar­ket leader in this game, it is dwarfed by the re­sources of Ama­zon, the sec­ond-most valu­able com­pany in the world, with a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion more than five times that of Net­flix.

Net­flix mean­while is worth more than con­ven­tional North Amer­i­can me­dia com­pa­nies. It also tied this year with HBO in most Emmy Awards for a broad­caster, sig­nalling that stream­ing com­pa­nies have be­come equals at the qual­ity game.

The bat­tle has gone global with the two stream­ing gi­ants spend­ing fu­ri­ously to build scale. In the dig­i­tal world every­one wants to be Google, not sec­ond-place Ya­hoo, be­cause they know how that story ends. With Net­flix, al­most half of sub­scribers come from the U.S. Ama­zon does not pro­vide fig­ures for view­er­ship, but an­a­lysts es­ti­mate the bulk of their sub­scribers are in Amer­ica. So the world is the next fron­tier.

“It’s re­ally em­pow­er­ing be­cause the medium means that there are no lim­its to the pro­grams we can put on,” says Far­rell.


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