Amazon has been investing heavily in producing original content for its Prime Video platform, with the goal of attracting and retaining a global audience. The company’s latest offering, “Citadel,” a spy thriller produced by Joe and Anthony Russo, premiered on Prime Video recently, and while audience response has been positive, critical reviews have been mixed.
Despite the critical reception, Amazon has already green-lit a second season of “Citadel,” and the company is banking on the show’s success to justify the high cost of production. According to sources familiar with the matter, the budget for “Citadel” ballooned from an estimated $165 million to as much as $300 million for just six episodes, making it one of the most expensive TV series ever made.
Amazon’s strategy for its original programming is to judge success based on an internal metric called PVC, or Prime Video consumption. This metric takes into account factors such as how many new subscribers a show attracts, how many current subscribers watch a show, and what percentage of viewers complete the entire series. If “Citadel” performs well in these areas, Amazon could argue that the show is a hit for the service, regardless of what critics say.
But “Citadel” isn’t the only expensive production that Amazon has invested in. The company has reportedly spent nearly $500 million on the first season of “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which would make it the most expensive television series ever produced. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the series only had a 37% completion rate. This suggests that while Amazon is willing to invest heavily in its original programming, there is no guarantee of success.
Amazon’s investment in original content is part of a larger effort to keep people subscribing to Prime. The company has also been producing local-language spinoffs of its original programming in countries such as India and Italy, in an attempt to attract a global audience. However, Amazon recently laid off around 100 people from its Studios and Prime Video teams, signaling a shift in the company’s strategy as it looks to rein in costs.
The question now is whether Amazon’s investment in “Citadel” will pay off. The show has a strong cast, including Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and the Russo brothers have a proven track record with the success of the “Avengers” franchise. However, the show’s time-bending plot has been criticized for lacking originality, and the mixed critical response could hurt its chances of success.
Regardless of the outcome, Amazon’s investment in original content has established the company as a player in Hollywood. The company has won several awards for its original programming, including multiple Emmys for shows such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Transparent.” While the success of “Citadel” remains uncertain, Amazon’s commitment to producing original content shows no signs of slowing down.