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Amazon MGM restructures for AVoD push, gives Lauren Anderson expanded role

Amazon MGM Studios has handed Lauren Anderson a new role as head of brand and content innovation as it restructures several content teams amid Prime Video’s push into ad-supported streaming.

Lauren Anderson

In the newly created role, LA-based Anderson, who most recently held the title of head of AVoD originals unscripted and targeted programming at Amazon MGM Studios, will manage collaborations with brands. She will focus on generating advertising sponsorships, product integrations, custom content and “brand supported” originals across its AVoD, FAST and SVoD platforms.

Amazon MGM Studios’ head of television, Vernon Sanders, announced the news internally to staff on Wednesday, noting that Anderson will work closely with Amazon Ads, Prime Video Ads and the Amazon MGM Studios marketing teams with the goal of helping brands “find engaging moments to partner across our originals slate.”

The rejig comes after Amazon shifted all Prime Video users, by default, over to a new ad-supported tier in several key international territories earlier this year. It also courted Madison Avenue ad buyers during its first ever upfront presentation in New York earlier this month.

At the same time as promoting Anderson, who will retain oversight of AVoD originals, the company has restructured and repositioned several of the teams and personnel working under her.

Christel Miller will lead the newly named “scripted hybrid” team, whose remit is “tailored to titles that reflect bespoke business models, hybrid formats and custom-built opportunities,” said Sanders. The team will focus on “unique, financially efficient creative and production, including brand-funded scripted,” he added.

Benoit Landry will lead the newly created “branded and talk” group, which is designed to be a “one-stop studios destination for our development of brand-centred originals, as well as a resource for creators seeking to meaningfully leverage brands within their series,” said Sanders.

Jenny Falkoff and Alysia Russo will continue to oversee the unscripted slate as head of reality series and docuseries, respectively.

Justin Holt will lead the creative ad operations group, which will continue to support the operational needs of Amazon titles in addition to now focusing on how ads are integrated into the creative.

Traci Blackwell will continue as head of targeted content but will now report to Kara Smith, head of copro development for Amazon MGM Studios.

The shift to ad-supported streaming from Prime Video, Netflix and others has producers and creators clamouring to understand how it will impact the commissioning decisions at the major streaming companies.

With this latest restructure, it appears that Amazon is getting very serious about bringing advertising dollars into the equation, which will no doubt have a meaningful bearing on how it develops and commissions shows going forward.

“Our org continues to evolve as we seek to deliver the entertaining content our customers crave,” said Sanders.

“This includes both our global audience and, with the introduction of advertising in Prime Video, our advertisers. It is imperative that we are creating a world-class experience for our brand partners and the agencies with whom they work.”

Meanwhile, Prime Video has commissioned Young Sherlock, an origin story series inspired by Andy Lane’s Young Sherlock Holmes book series. Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Fiennes Tiffin in the title role, the eight-episode series will premiere globally on Prime Video.

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