Top 19 Media Trends of 2019: Bidding War for A-List Producers

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In 2019, J.J. Abrams signed with WarnerMedia for $500 million, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss chose Netflix for $200 million, while Dan Fogelman extended his stay at Fox for a cool $125 million.

The latest 2019 studio-creator deal? Sharon Horgan, the creator of “Catastrophe,” who on Thursday inked an exclusive first-look deal with Apple. 

The value of the deal is unclear, but it replaces the one Horgan previously had with Amazon, and is a clear representation of the booming market that creators have faced in 2019. (Horgan is also an actor, her on-screen credits include “How to Build a Girl,” “Army Wives,” and “Women on the Verge”.)

The market for talent was white hot in 2019 because the level of unprecedented competition for eyeballs at play. Disney+ and Apple TV+ have launched, while Peacock and HBO Max are waiting in the wings.

Studios have been committing huge sums to top tier talent for years. Netflix memorably signed a multi-year $100 million deal with Shonda Rhimes in August 2017, for example.

But the growing talent roster among tech studios specifically sets 2019 apart from previous years. Aside from Horgan, Apple’s creative arsenal includes acclaimed “Roma” director Alfonso Cuaron, who signed a multi-year overall deal with the tech company in October. Meanwhile, Amazon also signed Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan to a five-year $30 million-per year overall deal in April. 

2020 is sure to be another lucrative year for creative free agents. But the amount of rich deals next year may not necessarily be on par with 2019 because a lot of big names are currently locked up in multi-year pacts.