×

Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on Their International Plans

It’s different strokes for different streaming folks as Amazon, HBO Max and Netflix lifted the lid on their international plans in London this week.

Amazon said it’s not in the volume game and talked up a select number of hyper-local shows, while Netflix dished on plans to rev up non-English-language originals. The message from HBO Max was that it’s laying the groundwork for its international launch, but details will have to wait until after it has gotten through its domestic launch next May.

Amazon’s European originals director, Georgia Brown, said its originals strategy is “hyper-local, with a spotlight on local production, local language to drive subscribers in those territories.” Talking up the potential of non-English-language fare internationally, she said that “language is kind of irrelevant now,” and “audiences are very open – they just want fantastic content and to fall into those worlds.”

Netflix also warmed to the non-English-language theme at the Content London Drama Summit. But unlike Amazon, it wants quantity as well as quality. International originals boss Kelly Luegenbiehl said it would double down on non-English fare, ramping up from the 80 or so originals it already has in this category. It’s looking for a foreign-language “Bandersnatch” interactive show as well as unscripted, comedy and kids’ content.

How will Netflix’s global programming strategy change in an increasingly crowded and competitive landscape? It won’t, at least for the time being. “What we’re doing is working, and so we want to be doing more of that,” Luegenbiehl said.“If people stop watching our shows, I think [that] will be an indication for us that we need to make a shift, but that’s not happening.”

HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly was on hand to talk about the service’s upcoming launch in the U.S. and then Latin America. Details of rollout in Europe and elsewhere are still taking shape.

HBO has recently extended an output deal with Comcast’s Sky in the U.K., Germany, and Italy, meaning that SVOD launches in those countries are unlikely, which rules out three of Europe’s big five territories. Elsewhere there are HBO Europe services, which have been pushing into original programming. “The exact timing of when HBO Max will be offered in Europe – we haven’t yet pinned that down, but we’re starting now with laying the tracks, the foundations for those services,” Reilly said.

What did emerge is that HBO Max will be different country by country. “Unlike some of our competitors – say, Netflix – where it is the same service in every territory, I think we can anticipate that the HBO Max product and alliances underneath it will likely take different forms in different territories. It won’t be one service, necessarily, that is globally transported.”

With a number of relationships in place, “we don’t necessarily want to unravel those existing businesses,” Reilly said. He added that, while programming is being yanked from rival streamers, “we’re not now closing down all pipes to just service one business.”

Reilly told the London crowd of international producers and distributors that the door was open to sell-in ideas for the U.S. HBO Max, but ahead of launch the service is pretty fully stocked. “I want to encourage everybody to engage with us in partnership – just not today,” he said.

Reilly also talked about ultimately offering an ad-supported streaming product and offered encouraging words for producers in terms of sharing viewing information. “I don’t personally think it’s viable to hold all the information in-house anymore and just send up smoke signals periodically about how everything is going. We’re going to look to have a more transparent approach to that.”

Reilly’s comment came on the same day that Scott Stuber, Netflix’s head of original films, said in an onstage conversation with Variety editor-in-chief Claudia Eller that the company was “building towards” greater transparency about viewership and other metrics.

More TV

  • Meryl Streep

    Meryl Streep to Narrate Apple Animated Short About Earth Day

    Meryl Streep is the latest big name heading to Apple. The acclaimed actor is attached to narrate a forthcoming animated short film about Earth Day, which is slated to premiere April 17 on Apple TV Plus. Titled “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth,” the short will also feature the voices of “State [...]

  • NAPTE 40th Anniversary

    Why NATPE Miami Is a 'Booming Area for Media and Multiculturalism'

    The NATPE conference will mark its tenth iteration of dealmaking, networking, brainstorming and ocean-gazing in Miami this year. The move of the association’s annual market and conference to Miami Beach in 2011 was born out of desperate times, but the balmy setting has proven to be a boon for the National Assn. of Television Program [...]

  • Paris Recreated for Movie Productions on

    TSF Recreates Paris on Former Air Base for Movie and TV Shoots

    As French outfits move to expand their studio offerings, industry eyes have turned to a 20-hectare stretch of land 20 miles south of Paris. There, in the commune Plessis-Pâté, sits the TSF Backlot 217, a converted air base that has become one the Gallic industry’s banner initiatives. One of France’s leading production suppliers, TSF scoped [...]

  • DSC07163.ARW

    Streamers Urge French Production Sector to Go Green

    For the French industry, the drive to open up additional studio spaces has gone hand-in-hand with the push for green production, because for the most part, they share the same root cause: The international streamers that are causing a surge in audiovisual production tend to have strict criteria when it comes to sustainable development. “Companies [...]

  • The Immortal

    Beta Scores Multi-Title Deals in the U.S., Latin America (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Ahead of next week’s Natpe market in Miami, Beta, one of the biggest independent TV-film powerhouses in Europe, has confirmed a swathe of sales on its U.S. TV movie productions and high-end spin-off series “Gomorrah: The Immortal.” The sales flag Beta’s diversified production-distribution model, and the continuing appetite for TV movies in the U.S., [...]

  • Discovery Corporate New Logo

    Intl. TV Newswire: Discovery U.K. Records, Netflix Stop Motion, Annecy Growth

    In this week’s International TV Newswire, Variety recaps Discovery U.K.’s best-ever year, a new Netflix stop motion series from Nexus Studios, Annecy’s growth, DCD’s pre-sales and Natpe lineup and another plaudit for “Friends” creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman. 2019 Marks Biggest Year Yet for Discovery U.K. Discovery U.K. enjoyed a banner year in 2019, with total [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content