Amazon To License Many Originals To Third Parties For First Time

Amazon Studios is becoming a full-fledged content "arms dealer."

The studio's distribution team has been revamped into a new unit, MGM Studios Distribution, that will license many of Amazon's s original movies and TV shows to media around the world for the first time, in addition to expanding the titles available for licensing from its library of more than 4,000 films and 17,000 TV episodes.

Amazon has distributed some originals previously, but on a limited basis, keeping most exclusive to its own Prime Video platform.

More entertainment companies, including Warner Bros. Discovery, are adding or expanding content licensing to their streaming offerings to expand their revenue sources.

Chris Ottinger, a 15-year MGM distribution executive who joined Amazon when it acquired MGM form $8.45 billion last year, will lead the new division. He will also continue to oversee distribution of MGM’s new releases and film franchises.

Ottinger will report to Brad Beale, VP of worldwide licensing and distribution for Amazon and MGM Studios. Beale reports to Amazon/MGM Studios chief Jen Salke.

“With the integration of MGM, we wanted to take advantage of the existing team to expand our business in ways that will greatly benefit our customers around the world,” Salke said in a statement.

“I’m not sure if Amazon ever had the viewpoint that content should be warehoused,” Ottinger remarked to Yahoo News. “It’s certainly a concept for some of the key players, but Amazon did distribution of some originals and tested the water at different times. The challenge for my team is getting the amazing Amazon content into the ecosystem.”

The new unit will differentiate itself from competitors by allowing customers more flexibility, such as being able to create bundles that work in their geographic territories, Ottinger said.

“What we’re trying to do is get a sense of where the demand is. It’s the first time we’ve brought [much of] this content to market. Our sales team and colleagues in the studio have developed this list and where we think the demand will be, but do we really know? We have some guesses and have thought about it and forecasted but buyers haven’t had the product before. We’re only going to know how it works when it gets on air, so we have to be flexible.”

The marketing of the licensed content will commence with Amazon MGM Studios Distribution presentations during LA Screenings on May 19 and May 22 at Amazon Studios’ headquarters in Culver City.

Amazon Originals television titles available for licensing at launch will include“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Goliath” and “Hunters.” Original films available will include  “7500,” “All the Old Knives,” “Bliss,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Coming 2 America,” “I Want You Back,” “The Tender Bar,” “The Tomorrow War,” “The Voyeurs” and “Without Remorse.”

The unit will also market PI from the James Bond, Rocky and Creed franchises and series The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Vikings,” “Fargo” and the upcoming “Hotel Cocaine” from MGM+.

Last week, Amazon announced that it is adding more than 100 of its originals to Freevee, its ad-supported streaming platform.

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