30 OCT 2023

Chris Ottinger: “Our goal is to establish Amazon MGM Studios distribution as a new brand”

The Head of Worldwide Distribution for Amazon MGM Studios Distribution, describes the potential of the new sales arm of Amazon Studios.

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Chris Ottinger

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Last May, just in time for the LA Screenings, Amazon Studios presented Amazon MGM Studios Distribution, its brand-new global distribution division that handles Amazon originals and MGM library titles, totaling more than 4,000 film titles and over 17,000 television episodes. At the same time, it was announced that, for the first time, the company would sell content to third parties.

At the helm of this division is Chris Ottinger, an industry veteran who led the MGM distribution team for more than a decade and now acts as Head of Worldwide Distribution for Amazon MGM Studios Distribution, reporting to Brad Beale, VP of Worldwide Licensing & Distribution at Amazon and MGM Studios. “Our first goal is to make our Prime Video streaming service as globally successful as possible. At the same time, we aim to be as strong as possible in our third-party distribution. Sometimes, there is a little bit of tension between those two goals, so it is always a challenge. It is tough to know exactly what is the right amount of time that some production should be on Prime Video before we take it to market. We are always balancing revenue expectations with performance on the service, trying to find that sweet spot,” Ottinger told Señal News.

Amazon Original film titles that this new division distributes 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.” It also manages the sales of the “James Bond,” “Rocky,” and “Creed” franchises, as well as series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Vikings,” “Fargo,” and the upcoming “Hotel Cocaine.” “I think it will take years to fully understand what the optimal windowing is. We are a very data-driven company. We want to make sure that the decisions are informed by data, that we are making the best possible decisions and in the most efficient way. The market is very dynamic right now,” Ottinger added.

Logically, the increase in the number and variety of titles he now handles under the Amazon umbrella is a very different challenge for Ottinger than the one he had during his years at MGM. “Definitely, Amazon is a super different company than MGM, and internally, our processes and procedures are very different. I think the best part of this integration is that we never had a consistent supply of new programming at MGM, so we were always challenged. Now, the content coming out of the studio is incredible and super consistent. We have a steady stream of content. Our greatest challenge is getting all of that content into our distribution pipeline, which is only an internal operational challenge,” he explained.

At Mipcom, Amazon MGM Studios Distribution launched a robust offer, with a catalog composed of well-known shows such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Fargo,” as well as new series. “We presented a big content push for Mipcom. However, our goal for this market is to establish Amazon MGM Studios Distribution as a new brand. We are not MGM anymore and are not Prime Video: we are a new combined company. Mipcom is the most important TV market, so it is important to have a presence there and quickly become a regular distributor competing with all the other major distributors,” Ottinger concluded.

By Federico Marzullo

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