It’s been a busy week for streaming services, and Amazon is closing things out with a huge announcement: the company has closed an overall deal with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, along with signing a first-look agreement for his production company Skybound Entertainment. In one fell swoop, it makes Amazon Prime Video the exclusive home for any new shows from the minds behind The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Cinemax’s Outcast.
Skybound historically has a close relationship with AMC, the network behind both Walking Dead TV shows. Two years ago, Kirkman signed an overall deal with the network that made it the home for any upcoming projects. (Outcast, which was already underway at Cinemax, was exempted from the deal.) Despite declining ratings over the last year, The Walking Dead has continued to be one of the biggest hits in television, and the overall deal was a way for AMC to keep one of its most profitable hitmakers in-house.
The shift now puts Amazon in that position for any new shows, and the larger deal with Skybound ensures that Amazon will have first dibs on any other projects that the company develops. While it’s an incredible win for Amazon, it also makes perfect sense given Skybound’s larger emphasis on digital strategies. Under the stewardship of producer David Alpert, the company has eagerly jumped into YouTube Red programming, virtual reality projects like Delusion, and app-driven film experiments like the recent Capture. Given Amazon’s diversified range of products and services, Skybound’s ambitions are simply much better served by Jeff Bezos’ company than they could ever be with a traditional television network.
It also adds one more interesting wrinkle to the continued evolution of streaming service programming itself. Just this week Netflix announced it had bought Mark Millar’s company in order to develop original programming, while Disney revealed that it would be launching its own bespoke streaming service in 2019. Skybound’s partnership with Amazon puts the streaming service on par with one of the most interesting TV networks in the landscape, and it will almost certainly make Prime Video a de facto destination for horror and genre fans.