Wanted: The great Canadian TV show
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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.