Amazon has big programming ambitions for its Prime Video service in Europe and Georgia Brown is tasked with making them a reality. The former BBC Worldwide and FremantleMedia executive joined the streamer last year as its first director of original television for Europe.
Beth Pattinson has since joined her team, coming over from the BBC to work on development, as has Ram Murali, previously part of the Amazon Studios original movies team.
Alongside the global juggernauts such as “Good Omens,” local programming, such as the first French original, Franco-German comedy “Deutsch Les Landes,” and debut Spanish offering, football doc “Six Dreams,” is bubbling up. Brown talks Variety through her plans and rise to the top.
What’s the opportunity in terms of original content in Europe?
In Europe we have an incredible opportunity to change the creative conversation and define what we believe to be truly original and distinctive television. We are able to engage with the production community in a way the terrestrials haven’t been able to, because of their attitude to risk, restrictive remits and budgets.
How does Prime Video fit into the wider Prime offering?
We are unique because of Prime. It allows us to tap into millions of customers globally, which inevitably means we can take bigger creative risks. On the day that “The Grand Tour” debuted, total new Prime membership sign-ups exceeded all previous days with the exception of Amazon’s renowned Prime Day. Ultimately, in Europe we want to make bold television that people love, and you can’t do that without taking risks. Because of Prime, we have a dialogue with our customers and audience in a deeper way than possible at the terrestrials.
What has Amazon’s impact on the content business been thus far?
Talent on and off screen that we have worked with continue to tell us that what they love about working with Amazon is the freedom we give them to make their shows with minimal interference. The obvious challenge as a new player in the European commissioning market is working with the creative community to ensure they bring us their next bold idea. We want to talk to the best upcoming and established content creators to work together to bring unique, artist-driven content. We are interested in character-led stories in worlds our customers don’t want to leave.
Culturally, is it very different being at a ‘‘digital” company?
Being digital has obvious advantages — we don’t have rigid schedules and we can take bigger swings when needed. We can take time, allowing our creative journey to evolve on merit rather than making decisions based purely on commercial pressures. In Europe, being a new department allows us to observe those that have gone before and not make the same mistakes.
“We want to talk to the best upcoming and established content creators to work together to bring unique, artist- driven content.”
How has the way that people consume and engage with content evolved in the SVOD world?
I have never known a time when the viewers are more engaged — and it’s largely due to technology allowing them to have a conversation with the content, its characters, the writers and producers — in a way that just wasn’t physically possible before. When I first started in TV it used to be that we would follow trends from other industries that would eventually trickle down to the small screen. I strongly believe that TV is now a trendsetter, influencing all the creative industries from publishing to fashion.
You have one of the biggest jobs in European TV; did you have a mentor as you came through the ranks?
For over 10 years I have been surrounded by some of the world’s top producers and I am lucky enough to have worked for, and in amongst, some of the industry’s finest. I have huge admiration and owe a lot of thanks to [former Shine chief and now Channel 4 chief executive] Alex Mahon for her generosity with me. Working for Shine took me to another level in my career. However, [Sony Pictures Television’s president of international production] Wayne Garvie has always been a key figure in my career development and has mentored me for over 10 years.
Would you say it was more challenging to move up the ranks as a woman?
Looking up to women like Alex Mahon, Jane Featherstone and Jay Hunt, it has never crossed my mind that I won’t be able to achieve my goals because of my gender, but I am overtly aware of the challenges women can face: men being paid more, getting more senior roles with less experience, people hiring men because they are worried about women having children.