Amazon TV Head Confident in Studio’s ‘Big Swings’ on Globally Focused, Original Content

Vernon Sanders says shows like “Citadel” and “Jack Ryan” are “delivering on the strategy we need to deliver for the service”

John Krasinski in "Jack Ryan." (Attila Szvaczek/Prime Video)

Amazon Studios television head Vernon Sanders is feeling confident about the tech giant’s investment in original, globally-focused franchise content following its big showing in this year’s Emmy nominations.

“When we have content that really engages and causes people to sign up for the service all around the world, and when that content actually delivers on all the creative ambition that we want, that’s when we’re actually ticking off all the boxes,” Sanders told TheWrap. “So whether it’s ‘Jack Ryan’ or ‘Citadel’ or ‘Rings of Power,’ ‘Mr. and Mrs Smith,’ that’s coming up, ‘Fallout,’ that’s coming up, the reason why you see us taking those big swings and the company being fully behind them is because candidly, they’re delivering on the strategy we need to deliver for the service.”

He noted that “Citadel” has been “tremendously successful in bringing new people” to Prime Video, and that Amazon is “really excited at where we are” on the spy thriller’s international spin-offs.

“We made the show with the intent of it being a giant global show, and especially with trying to appeal to an international audience, casting international stars, etc. It has been wildly successful in that regard,” he explained. “Having seen the Italy show. It’s fantastic, it stands out, it’s very different than our US show. But the quality is there, the performance is there, the writing is there. And I’m really, really thrilled with what I’m seeing from the India show as well.”

“If you’re getting into business with the Russos, you’re looking for a ride and I think the show has really delivered that,” he added. “And these international shows, while they are specific and unique, I think will also deliver in that same way.”

He also praised the John Krasinski-led thriller “Jack Ryan,” which is currently airing its fourth season on Prime Video.

“I think there’s been lots of interest in ways in which we could extend it,” Sanders said. “I don’t have anything to report now, other than to say if we do it, we want to make sure we’re doing it in the right way and there’s been such integrity that John has brought to the role and that [Michael B. Jordan] will be bringing to “Without Remorse” that we just have to make sure that whatever we do holds that bar. And by the way, Season 4 [of ‘Jack Ryan’] was huge. I was very excited about the performance of Season 4 and hopefully there’s more to come on that front but it’s been a tremendous success for us.”

His bullishness on the company’s current strategy follows a Bloomberg report that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is taking a harder look at the studio’s content spend — a similar move being made by many of its competitors in the current economic environment.

“The company has made giant investments, whether it’s the NFL or buying MGM. Amazon is in this business and wants to win,” Sanders said. “So really the conversations we are having [on content spend] are around how do we best allocate the money we have to build even more momentum than what we’ve done so far.”

In 2022, Amazon invested approximately $7 billion in 2022 across Amazon Originals, live sports and licensed third-party video content included with Prime, up from about $5 billion in 2021.