Variety Virtual TV Festival
At Variety‘s Virtual TV Fest panel presented by Amazon Advertising, Marie Donoghue, VP of global sports video at Amazon, as well as Ryan Pirozzi and Lauren Anderson — IMDb TV’s co-heads of…
At Variety‘s Virtual TV Fest panel presented by Amazon Advertising, Marie Donoghue, VP of global sports video at Amazon, as well as Ryan Pirozzi and Lauren Anderson — IMDb TV’s co-heads of content and programming — spoke with Variety NY digital editor Todd Spangler.
The execs discussed the lineup of original series and live sports on Prime Video as well as the free, ad-supported IMDb TV service.
Amazon recently struck an 11-year deal with the NFL to acquire exclusive media rights to all 15 of the league’s “Thursday Night Football” games starting in 2022. Donoghue said the NFL pact is a “game-changer” for Prime Video.
“We know that even the non-exclusive rights we’ve had for the past few years [to ‘Thursday Night Football’ games] have been really positively received and driven great engagement with our audience,” Donoghue said. She noted that Prime Video presented an exclusive game in December that drew 11.2 million viewers — who watched it on average 15 minutes longer than regular-season games on television.
As for how IMDb TV fits onto Amazon’s video entertainment chessboard, Pirozzi said he’s excited about the idea of delighting a bigger and broader group of customers beyond Amazon’s Prime.
The IMDb TV programming strategy is to be complementary and additive to Prime Video, instead of duplicative — so “we came up with this concept of a ‘modern broadcast network,'” Pirozzi explained. “We can delight Prime members that want more selection, and we can also delight people that don’t want to be behind that paywall for one reason or another.”
The originals slate at IMDb TV includes unscripted series with country star Luke Bryan and interior designer Jeff Lewis (“Flipping Out”), as well as “On Call,” a new half-hour drama from prolific producer Dick Wolf and Wolf Entertainment, Universal Television and ATTN: and a comedy from Michael Schur (“The Good Place”) and author Shea Serrano. And then there’s the untitled Judge Judy Sheindlin project that is set to come out following the end of Sheindlin’s “Judge Judy” 25-year run on daytime TV.
Ultimately, IMDb TV is trying to bring daytime-style programming to streaming — but also being “daypart agnostic,” said Anderson. “It’s part of what drove that pursuit of Judge Scheindlin’s show,” she said. “Streaming services in general tend to focus on what we would consider primetime programming, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all customers watch and that’s all audiences and fans watch.”
Anderson said the IMDb TV team’s goal is to make sure the service has “something for everyone.”
“We have game shows that are meant to be big-tent family series,” Anderson said. She noted that Pirozzi, before moving over to IMDb TV, was focused on stand-up comedy at Prime Video which is an area of opportunity for the service. “What is potentially ‘late night,’ what maybe can we do there?” Anderson said. “So we’re looking at all of it.”
Watch the full conversation above.