Game of Thrones is undoubtedly the hottest TV series at the moment. As HBO’s flagship show enters its final season, it is enjoying record viewership and a unique place in the world as a cultural phenomenon. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos has indicated that he wants Amazon to produce a colossal TV show of its own to rival Game of Thrones.Bezos has signaled his intention to move Amazon streaming service into the prime position occupied by Netflix and HBO. Not satisfied by supremacy in the e-commerce categories Amazon already masters, the CEO wants to conquer the TV series market too.
Bezos is not happy with the image, currently projected by Amazon Studios, which is identified in the public imagination with such indie hits as Transparent. The company has recently published the list of new shows it is working on and the shows that have not made the cut for renewal. The list reflects the new thinking in Amazon. Christian Ricci’s Z: The Beginning of Everything has been cut because it failed to generate sufficient buzz. Shows like The Man in The High Castle and The Grand Tour have found favor with Bezos as representing the sort of success he is pursuing.
Bezos has also demanded that Amazon make him a Game of Thrones and specifically instructed his team of top executives to begin an active search for a smash hit show to emulate Game of Thrones. Amazon Studios President, Roy Brice appears to concur with the CEO’s view that they need one big hit to improve their market position. Brice is quoted in Variety saying that it takes a big show to move the needle and to extend the reach into international markets. The streaming model puts huge pressure on companies to drive viewership and to drive subscriptions. If they can capture the zeitgeist and have exclusive broadcast rights over the water-cooler conversation show they are assured a hike in subscriptions. Bezos and Brice have high praise for the cultural colossus that has been Game of Thrones. Brice likened its impact to that of films like Jaws and Star Wars in the 70s.
One hopeful contender for the new iron throne is The Boys which is a comic book adaptation by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Writer, Garth Ennis has developed the tale which promises plenty of glossy violence and is based on a black-ops team responsible for eliminating superheroes who transgress.
But can Amazon produce a show to match Game of Thrones? The secret to the Game of Thrones success may lie as much in its arrival on the scene when TV was at such a crucial period of transition. Blockbuster movies were no longer at the center of the public cultural conversation. They were replaced with sophisticated, complex series such as Sopranos which put HBO on the map. Game of Thrones arrived at a time when audience behavior and appetite was primed for a show like it. The show’s success has meant that its ever increasing budget has been used to create lavish and spectacular scenes underpinned by the intrigue of characters which audiences have invested in for years. There’s no obvious formula for reproducing a Game of Thrones style hit. We look forward to seeing Amazon try.
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