Broadcasters as nervous of digital players as indies are optimistic
British TV’s relationship with Netflix and Amazon has never been more pressing, more powerful or more intriguing.
Structurally, they feel like rivals, and Kate Bulkley reports on the sales bosses at ITV, Channel 4 and Sky Media indicating a willingness to work together to combat their threat.
The fact that traditional powerhouses are prepared to think the previously unthinkable shows just how significant and disruptive these new digital players are for broadcasters.
The production community is far less nervous. Scripted is still flavour of the month for the super-indie groups, and for the top indie labels, the SVoD giants are starting to prove increasingly flexible partners and, as a result, even more appealing customers.
Initially it felt as though the co-pro options were limited to winning a UK commission from a big broadcaster and selling full global rights to a deep-pocketed SVoD partner.
”There is more to being a great partner than just writing a whopping cheque”
But one senior figure told me that Netflix and Amazon are “riding to the rescue” at the same time as proving very reasonable, and that they are prepared to negotiate bespoke deals on a territory-by-territory basis. There is more to being a great partner than just writing a whopping cheque.
It’s also significant that the volume of UK Netflix originations is rising inexorably. The likes of New Pictures and Fifty Fathoms are the latest indies to win big drama orders, but it is just as significant that Pulse Films, Wall to Wall, Nutopia and ITN Productions are all making high-end non-scripted series for Netflix.
There are probably many more deals that are yet to come to light, and that critical mass of original content will be bolstered further if the format deal struck by Voltage TV for The Big Family Cooking Showdown indicates a new strategy.
Netflix will be able to analyse viewing data for the UK version to take some of the risk out of the decision to order a local remake.
There is plenty to learn about how Amazon fits into this evolving scenario, and for the first time we have a speaker from the SVoD giant at a Broadcast event.
Amazon director of original content UK and Europe Georgia Brown will speak as part of the scripted day at the Broadcast Commissioning Forum next week, and will offer clarity about its strategy and how it intends to engage with the programming community.
Perhaps the production community is as optimistic as the broadcasters are nervous.
To hear from Amazon director of original content UK and Europe Georgia Brown, attend the Broadcast Commissioning Forum on 4 & 5 October.
Chris Curtis is the editor of Broadcast