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Amazon’s Jennifer Salke Details Global Programming Strategy

Amazon has a firm grip on online shoppers. Now it is broadcasting its goals to expand its reach globally through television and movies.

“International productions are such an important part of our business,” said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour on Wednesday. The studio arm of the e-commerce and web services giant has greenlit production of 17 new original series globally from Britain, Germany, India, Mexico and elsewhere, and Salke said to expect more news about the company’s expansion abroad.

Part of Amazon Studios’ originals strategy, she said, is to diversify storytelling and reach a more international community, highlighting its current team-up with Joe and Anthony Russo to create an international series. That project will begin with a tentpole series, followed by local-language series produced out of India and Italy.

Amazon Studios is looking to “make the same kind of noise” and package big shows outside of English-speaking territories, said Salke. The studio’s co-head of TV, Albert Cheng, who was also on stage alongside fellow TV co-head Vernon Sanders, said that the Amazon team is approaching its programming strategy from an international perspective.

And though they wouldn’t break down the impact of original programming on Amazon membership or Prime Video viewership, the team did say that critical attention lavished on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has helped it outperform expectations and continue to build an audience over time. Amazon announced at the tour that it inked an overall deal with “Mrs. Maisel” duo Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino.

Salke, Sanders and Cheng also discussed:

  • Competitor Netflix. Focusing on its rival is “not a priority for us,” said Sanders, while Salke believes that there is currently room for all players in the ecosystem.
  • Live sports. Amazon Studios is “experimenting” with it, said Cheng, as it gauges how customers respond to the offering. Response has been positive so far, he said.
  • “Lord of the Rings.” No timetable has been set, and the team behind the series is “making great progress,” said Salke, who said to expect more news shortly. Social media handles have been created (“LOTRonPrime” on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
  • Woody Allen. Salke would not comment on the $68 million suit Allen filed against Amazon Studios for allegedly backing out of a four-picture deal, saying that the deal itself pre-dates her.
  • “Homecoming.” Julia Roberts still stays on as a producer, as was planned, but there is a conversation with producers regarding talent for the next season.
  • “The Expanse.” Sanders is “proud to say the show has come back strong,” and hopes it will launch by the end of the year.
  • “Patriot.” A decision has not yet been made on a third season, said Cheng, who called the show a personal favorite.

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