The Amazon Diaries

Amazon TV Director: Networks Should Scare You More Than Amazon

Amazon is spending billions to find its Game of Thrones moment

Brendan O'Connor
Published in
8 min readMar 26, 2019
Illustration: Glenn Harvey

Valued at nearly $1 trillion, Amazon is one of the most powerful companies in the world. The Seattle-based retail giant employs over 600,000 people and operates 100 sortation and fulfillment centers in North America, sometimes sending out as many as 1 million items per day to customers. But Amazon does more than just retail. Amazon publishes its own books and comics, finances TV shows and movies, operates a Texas wind farm, builds robots, streams music, delivers prescription medications, and operates web services for everyone from Medium to the CIA. And that’s not even counting its high-profile acquisitions, which include Twitch, IMDB, Zappos, and Whole Foods, among countless others.

Nearly all of us use Amazon, one way or another. But what is it like working inside the beast? Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you stories from workers at every level of the Amazon empire to find out.

Welcome to The Amazon Diaries.

InIn 2010, Amazon launched Amazon Studios, a film and television company to churn out content targeted at Amazon Prime members—one of a growing list of incentives to keep subscribers in the Amazon ecosystem. “It’s servicing not the audience as much as the Prime member, who is there to buy all their products on Amazon,” said a director on an early Amazon Prime show, who recently spoke to OneZero on the condition of anonymity. “It’s meant to sell more Prime memberships.”

Or, as Jeff Bezos put it in 2016, “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.”

In 2018, Amazon’s content budget was reportedly somewhere between $5-6 billion, up from $4.5 billion the previous year. According to data from Ampere Analysis, Amazon has produced 80 original television shows with 97 more coming down the pike—just one of many signs that the company is going all in on film and TV. In 2017, Amazon began moving its entire Los Angeles operation, including Amazon Studios, IMDb, Amazon Video, and World Wide Advertising, into Hollywood’s historic Culver Studios—where Citizen Kane was filmed—and in the past two years, it has signed…