Amazon Freevee, the ad-funded streaming service, has unveiled a raft of renewals, unscripted orders and developments following its rebrand from IMDb TV.
The company unveiled the service’s new name at the start of April and it went live at the end of the month. It unveiled the news at its NewFronts advertising event in New York.
Bosch: Legacy, the spinoff of the long-running Amazon crime series has been renewed ahead of its premiere with Lauren Anderson, who is Co-Head of Content & Programming alongside Ryan Pirozzi, teasing potential plans for even more series in the Bosch universe. It has also renewed LeBron James-exec produced docuseries Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers for a third and fourth season.
In addition to a short-term film deal with Disney, the streamer handed series orders to unscripted formats America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation and Play-Doh Squished, the Sarah Hyland-hosted series that originally launched as a holiday special, YA drama Beyond Black Beauty and a Post Malone music documentary. It is also developing a remake of BBC series Inside No. 9.
“The business has evolved [over the last 12 months],” Anderson told Deadline. “When we were thinking about where we were last year versus where we are right now, on the originals side, we were really talking about a lot of development and we had primarily acquisitions. Now we’re moving into shows, whether that’s Sprung with Greg Garcia or High School from Plan B. We’ve tripled our monthly active users over the period of time that we’ve been overseeing the business and it’s been really satisfying to see customers respond so positively to both our original content and our licensed content.”
Pirozzi added that the momentum around ad-supported streaming, which is now in thoughts of rivals such as Netflix and Disney, has been “accelerating”. “Free is a great price point,” he added. “Lauren and I and our team have been really working to uplevel the kind of content in front of a paywall.”
Bosch: Legacy launches on Amazon Freevee on May 6 but the drama series, which stars Titus Welliver, has been handed a second season ahead of its premiere. The series follows Welliver as retired homicide detective turned private investigator Harry Bosch, as he embarks on the next chapter of his career. Attorney Honey “Money” Chandler (Mimi Rogers) struggles to maintain her faith in the justice system after surviving an attempted murder, and Maddie Bosch (Madison Lintz) discovers the possibilities and challenges of being a rookie patrol cop on the streets of Los Angeles.
Bosch ran for seven seasons on Amazon’s Prime Video service and Pirozzi said one of their challenges was to figure out how to make season one of the spinoff rather than season eight of Bosch. “We are ecstatic where we are creatively,” he said.
The spinoff is produced by Fabel Entertainment and exec produced by Michael Connelly, Eric Overmyer, Tom Bernardo, Henrik Bastin, Pieter Jan Brugge, and Titus Welliver.
“It’s about doubling down on a franchise that has worked for a long time,” Anderson added. She said that the “strong and loyal” audience of the original in part gave it the confidence to order a second season ahead of its premiere.
She added that they were thrilled by how prolific Connelly is and that Bosch: Legacy could be one of a number of spinoffs. “We are absolutely exploring other partnerships with Michael Connelly because who wouldn’t and why wouldn’t you and so we’re thrilled that that we have Bosch and hopefully many other things to do with Michael in the future,” she said.
Amazon Freevee has renewed Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers for two more seasons and ordered new series America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation as well as a full series order for Play-Doh Squished.
America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation is a new unscripted competition series that will sees contestants work inside the ATK studio kitchens, undergoing intense culinary and media challenges in the job interview of a lifetime. The last cook standing will receive a starring role on ATK. The series is executive produced by David Nussbaum, Jack Bishop, David Lonner, and Mark Itkin.
The order marks the service’s first move into the cooking space. “Fans of cooking competition shows are going to love this one,” he said.
Play-Doh Squished, which launched as a holiday special in December, returns as a full series. Sarah Hyland hosts and exec produces the series, which comes from eOne and Amazon Studios. It features three teams of four family members and/or friends competing in a series of physical and creative challenges.
Allison Berkley and Briana Vowels serve as showrunners and exec producers while Tara Long and Will Erb exec produce for eOne
Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers launched in February 2021, following a new mecca of high school athletics just outside of Los Angeles. The series has now been picked up for seasons three and four. Season Three will follow the Trailblazers as they put it all on the line to regain their spot as the ‘22 CIF-champions. Amari Bailey, Shy Odom, Bronny James, and Dylan Metoyer return, with Kijani Wright, Isaiah Elohim, and Mike Price as new additions to the roster. It comes from exec producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter, via their Uninterrupted brand. Jamal Henderson, Devin Johnson, and Philip Byron also exec produce alongside showrunner/director Brendon Carter and co-EP Camille Maratchi.
Finally, tattooed pop star Post Malone is getting his own music doc on the service. Post Malone: Runaway will tell the story of his first ever arena tour in 2019. The doc, which is Freevee’s second original film, features exclusive backstage access, live performances, and interviews. It comes from Pulse Films and Federal Films. It was created by Hector Dockrill, written and produced by Sam Bridger and Casey Engelhardt and executive produced by Dre London, Austin Rosen, and Bobby Greenleaf.
BEYOND BLACK BEAUTY
Freevee has ordered a dramedy inspired by the Black Beauty novel. The coming-of-age YA series follows Jolie Dumont, an equestrian with Olympic aspirations whose journey is suddenly halted when her mother, Janelle, moves them from their posh Belgium life to Janelle’s childhood home in Baltimore. Jolie struggles to find roots, but as she bonds with an equally spirited horse named Black Beauty, she learns to embrace the family’s ranch, where Black cowboys have been entrenched in their DNA for more than a century.
The series comes from Amazon Studios, Sinking Ship Entertainment, and Leif Films and is exec produced by Pilar Golden, Leif and Agnes Bristow, J.J. Johnson, and Carla de Jong.
INSIDE NO. 9
A U.S. remake of BBC anthology series Inside No. 9, which was created by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, is in the works at Freevee.
Each episode of the dark comedy series, which features horror tropes, is brought together by the number nine and a brass hare statue, but otherwise they are standalone episodes. Gemma Arteton, Tamsin Greig, Jack Whitehall, Jessica Raine, Javone Prince, Sian Clifford, Fiona Shaw and Jenna Coleman are among the actors who have appeared.
The project, which is in the development stages, comes from Lionsgate Television and BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions, which have a deal together and are behind breakout CBS comedy Ghosts, which is also based on a BBC format. The series is executive produced by Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, Angie Stephenson, and Josh Cole.
“We want to do inventive, noisy interesting television and that show is one of one. We hope we can make a version that is worthy of the legacy,” said Anderson.
DISNEY FILM DEAL
The company has struck a short-term film licensing agreement with Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution for a limited selection of titles. Movies will include Deadpool, Deadpool 2, Logan, Hidden Figures, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Post. This comes after a film deal with NBCUniversal for an exclusive network-window for films from Universal’s 2020/21 slate including Dolittle, The Invisible Man, Promising Young Woman, F9, and Sing 2.