Netflix’s strategy when it comes to original content is volume: they’re expected to spend some $6 billion on producing new shows and films this year. They’re got a stated goal of having half their catalog eventually be their own original material. It’s hard to compete with that levels of output, so Amazon isn’t trying to beat them in sheer volume. As revealed by Amazon Studios Vice President Roy Price, there’s more strategy to it than that.
Speaking during a keynote presentation on Monday, Price revealed Amazon’s two most popular original shows, and shone some light on what that means for Amazon’s strategy going forward. So which Amazon originals take the crown? Unsurprisingly, it’s The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle. The former is a globe-hopping automotive from the creators of Top Gear — no surprise that would find global appeal. The latter is a grim, dystopian alternate reality tale based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about a world where the Axis powers won World War II. It’s critically acclaimed and well produced, but it’s also very timely in this age when nationalism and racism are on the rise…or at least more in the spotlight.
Amazon doesn’t reveal official viewership numbers, but Price did confirm that Grand Tour and High Castle are Amazon’s two biggest global hits. He also went into more detail about why, together, they are reflective of Amazon’s larger strategies when it comes to original content.
“The Grand Tour is an expensive show, but it’s well worth it,” said Price, while still refusing to comment on rumors that the show is costing Amazon a whopping $250 million for three seasons. He insisted, however, that “it’s actually efficient and good economics,” explaining that the show’s word-of-mouth buzz continues to bring lots of attention to Amazon. That attention translates into lots of people signing up for a free Amazon Prime trial. and many of those eventually convert to paying subscriptions.
Price said Amazon’s focus when it comes to original content is on “the creme de la creme” and “actual shows people are talking about.” Of course, it’s sometimes hard to guess what’s going to capture people’s attention — just look at Netflix’s Stranger Things, which was passed on by countless networks before Netflix picked it up. Still, shows like The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle are as close to safe bets as you’re likely to find in the entertainment landscape. Folks love cars and Nazis as screen villains.
You can check out both The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle right now, streaming on Amazon Prime.