Apple, Amazon talk up flexible deals

Apple’s creative director for Europe Jay Hunt and Amazon Studios’ director of European originals Georgia Brown have talked up their companies’ openness to flexible rights models, including considering coproductions.

Hunt (pictured), who took up her position at Apple 18 months ago, is now working on commissions for the tech giant’s forthcoming streaming offering, selected details of which were revealed earlier this year.

Her initial slate includes a range of UK-produced natural history docs, while the company’s wider commissions range from Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories reboot to the Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston-fronted The Morning Show.

Hunt, who oversees the European side of Apple’s commissioning strategy, told a House of Lords Communications Committee meeting in London yesterday that she had been engaged in an array of discussions about production models since starting with the company.

“We are having very different conversations about different sorts of models, the priority for us is finding great, high quality content across the country,” she said.

“Over the past 18 months I’ve had conversations with broadcasters and producers about coproduction models but also about paying a premium for global rights. What is emerging is a very sophisticated sector, which is able to work with different types of models depending on the content.”

Hunt also confirmed to the House of Lords committee, which is exploring the impact of streamers on UK public broadcasters, that Apple was “not averse to coproductions at all,” adding that she had “spent the past 18 months talking to broadcasters and producers” about the model.

“I would say sometimes they can be very successful and sometimes less so, but critically it’s not the only we we can make a contribution to the UK creative economy,” she added, highlighting that two of her first commissions were to BBC Studios, including a Jon Favreau show about dinosaurs.

“That is a literal injection of cash into the BBC, continuing to fuel our public service economy. There are lots of different ways of cutting this and we can make an array of contributions.”

Hunt, who joined Apple from UK pubcaster Channel 4 in 2017, said she had noticed that producers were also becoming “more entrepreneurial and forward-facing.”

“I’ve been quite surprised by the openness that producers have had to discuss an array of different models. They re keen to be involved with big global players with sizeable budgets making ambitious shows that they hope can resonate globally. I’ve been struck by how interesting and interested they are on the subject of different types of ways of working.”

Meanwhile, Brown (right) said Amazon’s model was “incredibly flexible” and that the company did not have a “one size fits all” approach to rights. The streamer is widely known to be open to coproductions, with shows such as recent launch Good Omens coproduced with the BBC in the UK.

“There are a number of shows I’ve commissioned to date in Europe that are only single territory, simply because I know very well, first-hand, my viewers around the world and who I am programming for.

“And I know in some instances that that some viewers won’t want to watch certain shows. So I’m more than happy for producers to keep those rights and monetise them.”

Last year Brown said it was “mad” to think that the streaming service is going to “warehouse rights” and snatch shows away from domestic broadcasters.