Articles Prime Video

Prime Video strategy in Italy

by Andrea Fornasiero | 31.01.2020

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Last week in Rome, the international bosses of Amazon Prime Video, led by their unmatched queen Jennifer Salke, presented their Italian production projects, confirming the distinctiveness of a platform that coexists with the largest online store worldwide and can naturally pursue synergies through more direct channels than other competitors in the war of streaming.

So rather than announcing a mountain of Netflix-style drama series, Prime Video disclosed projects that are closer to the luxury-generalist style of Sky One, projects that put a focus on celebrities, as they like to say. And it’s easy to understand why: Amazon’s aim is to reach out to an audience that goes far beyond serial fans and the service wants to offer products to the most diversified viewers possible, fundamentally because, as explained by Director of European Originals Georgia Brown, “Prime Video is enormously important to highlight Amazon Prime, because if the public is satisfied with our streaming content, it remains a subscriber for longer”.

Therefore, Celebrity Hunted: Italy bets on Santamaria and most of all on Totti and Fedez (who will also be the service’s “social brand ambassador”, alphabetizing his followers on the relationship between the store and the platform). In Dinner Club the focus is on Cracco, and Ferilli and Littizzetto are part of it. Naturally, after the success of Chiara Ferragni: Unposted, a new documentary has been announced – this time on Tiziano Ferro. And then Vita da Carlo, a fiction comedy (only up to a certain point), where Verdone plays the role of himself. The producer of the project Aurelio De Laurentiis, explains the choice of platform, “My son Luigi and I believe Amazon is different: it can talk about food, football, or fiction…”.

In short, these titles plunge into what is called “national popular”, considering that TV-series fans already know the platform and what’s missing is a less trendy but wider audience that goes beyond a generalist one. So rather than tracking down this audience with productions that mimic Montalbano or Don Matteo, the choice is to engage them with products that recall X-Factor and MasterChef, with a whole other potential for product placement development and a very different media clout.

At first glance, these productions may not seem to have great international appeal – besides Ferro who is very popular in all Latin countries – but in reality, it’s easy to see that besides individual celebrities, the strength of Celebrity Hunted: Italy and Dinner Club relies on the two strongest assets of our country abroad. On the one hand, the beauty of Italy that becomes the setting of the reality’s protagonists, meant to travel far and wide, which will be shot with great deployment of means in a remarkable promotional tourism effort. On the other hand, food, that involves travelling abroad where our chefs reinterpret foreign dishes according to Italian taste – an attempt to build a bridge towards other cuisines, and therefore other cultures and other audiences.

As added by Jennifer Salke, “We have a diverse global customer base and want it to be delighted with our content, but at the same time we want to widen our Amazon Prime subscriptions and reach out to new audiences. Thanks to Amazon, we can count on great synergies – especially with regards to sport and the unscripted, for example in the field of fashion. Also books, the company’s first merchandise, are very important. We aren’t organizing a production pipeline in an attempt to satisfy different audiences, but because we have authors who can create high-quality content if they work on what they are passionate about. Furthermore, we don’t have programming deadlines to fill in, so we can give the quality we are pursuing the time to materialize”. In other words: compared to other platforms in the streaming war, our core business is different, and we are therefore sheltered from the frenzy conflicts and mistakes that this entails.

Lorenzo Mieli echoed the comfort of this long-range schedule when speaking of Bang Bang Baby, “We’ve been developing this series for four and a half years because of its complex story. This crime series is the background to a coming-of-age story. Here, the crime universe is entirely governed by women in the 80s in Italy – all elements that I was immediately attracted to, and our team worked hard to develop the tones, themes and styles we were looking for”.

The location chosen by Prime Video for Bang Bang Baby is Milan, well-described in an 80s slogan “the Milan to drink”. A city snubbed by both Sky and Netflix, it’s notoriously the most international Italian city and certainly the most fashionable. This choice is enriched by an unusual project that aims at crime and teen audiences – an operation that worked out well for Gomorrah and Suburra that didn’t even have to work on it. Here, instead, the target is asserted from the very beginning, in addition to a womanly edge, in line with today’s #timesup.

And finally, there’s the Citadel project, still covered in mystery at the moment, but since its announcement surrounded by international ambition. Behind the project are the Russo brothers, who top-grossed the worldwide box offices with their Avengers, and here try to replicate the Marvel universe on TV with a vaguely similar mechanism.

The main series is an American spy drama (embellished with trips abroad as the genre often requires) starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra, two stars of great appeal all over the world. The drama will be enriched by “local” series produced in Mexico, India and Italy: autonomous series based on the main one that enhance the general project for those who want to follow it as a whole.

Just as the audience can see Thor without seeing Captain America, the experience is more complete and, in some ways, magnified if both are watched. Shared universes already exist on TV, but are developed differently: it’s the first time that an American production is linked to others produced in other countries, with local stars and languages ​​other than English. An operation that goes from global titles like Sense8 to a sort of glocal product, where local productions takes place within an international container. And as we know, this describes Amazon’s overall philosophy – worldwide, and in Italy in particular.