With its direct connection to Amazon as both a company and a platform, Prime Video occupies a unique space among major streaming services. The ongoing evolution of Prime Video as a brand might provide an opportunity for producers armed with the right unscripted project. 

In this post, we’ll break down the trends driving Prime Video’s unscripted programming. We’ll check out some of its recent hits, examine its upcoming unscripted slate, and explore the possibilities of what Prime Video might be looking for next.  

Evaluating current Prime Video hits

Amazon Prime Video has been growing since its start as Amazon Unbox back in 2006. From the very beginning, Prime Video’s acquisitions and programming choices were designed to build an international audience. Except for a handful of countries, Prime Video was officially launched worldwide in 2016.

Prime Video’s slate of unscripted content continues to reflect the platform’s global mindset. Series are both licensed from and adapted to markets from all around the world.

With the additional backing of high-profile U.S. productions, the possibilities of Prime Video seem endless, particularly when it comes to the relatively low-cost market of unscripted content

To get an idea of the current climate at Prime Video, we’re going to check out three of the platform’s current unscripted hits

1. Friends in Low Places: Building the Oasis

Friends in Low Places: Building the Oasis follows country music power couple Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks as they construct “the honky-tonk of their dreams” in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. 

An Amazon original, Friends in Low Places combines two classic unscripted ingredients to create a fresh experience. The series injects a pair of well-known celebrities into what is essentially a heartfelt building show with a focus on community. Friends in Low Places sees Garth and Trisha go back to their roots to construct “a labor of love” that will ultimately be their thank you to the community of Music City.

Friends in Low Places also adds a modern twist to the construction and renovation genre. Rather than focusing on a different project in each episode, this Amazon Original instead follows the pursuit of a single goal. 

It’s a simple choice that – perhaps inadvertently – connects Friends in Low Places to the wider industry trend towards serialized television, a trend that has been slower to influence unscripted formats compared to their scripted counterparts. 

2. Making the Cut

Making the Cut is a reality competition that pits a collection of talented designers against one another in a series of challenges and assignments to see who will become the next big brand in fashion. The show is hosted by former model Heidi Klum and design expert Tim Gunn, two legends of both fashion and reality TV.

With three seasons under its belt, Making the Cut has carved itself a unique niche in the relatively crowded field of unscripted fashion series. 

To differentiate itself from similar hits like Next in Fashion and the original Project Runway, Making the Cut places additional focus on the competitors as entrepreneurs, offering them opportunities to build their respective brands. 

3. LOL: Last One Laughing

LOL: Last One Laughing is a unique reality competition format that Amazon has turned into an international franchise. Prime Video hosts versions of the show that take place in Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and many other countries. 

The format got its start on Japanese television under the title Documental, but the idea was so infectious that it was bound to grow from there. Its secret sauce is a deceptively simple premise.

Each season of Last One Laughing locks 10 comedians together in one big room for six hours. During that time, there’s one rule: don’t laugh. Each contestant competes against all the others to see who can keep the straightest face in a room full of their country’s funniest people. Gradually, the initial cast is whittled down to just one competitor, the last one laughing.

Critically, Last One Laughing leverages known celebrities to draw in its audience. For example, the first season of Last One Laughing Canada features legends like Dave Foley, Tom Green, Jon Lajoie, Colin Mochrie, Andrew Phung, and Caroline Rhea, among others. Every edition of LOL builds an all-star cast from the comedy culture of its country of origin.

Looking at upcoming Prime Video shows

Now that we have an idea of what Prime Video is programming on its current unscripted slate, let’s see what the platform will be adding in the near future.

Below, we’ll explore three upcoming shows that Prime Video has recently announced or acquired.

1. Luxe Listings Toronto

Luxe Listings Toronto follows some of the titular city’s top real estate agents as they wheel and deal their way through “one of the world’s most competitive real estate markets.” The docuseries blends the careers and personal lives of its central subjects, using multi-million dollar real estate deals to craft high-stakes stories around compelling human beings.

The format driving this Amazon Original has already proven itself in Luxe Listings Sydney, which transplants the drama to Australia’s most populous city. Depending on its success, the premiere of Luxe Listings Toronto on April 26 might signal the birth of a new dynasty among unscripted series. 

2. Going Home with Tyler Cameron

Going Home with Tyler Cameron uses familiar reality talent to anchor another twist on the unscripted construction and renovation genre. Check out this summary straight from Amazon:

Going Home with Tyler Cameron stars reality TV star and former The Bachelorette heartthrob Tyler Cameron as he follows his dream of starting his own construction and home renovation company. After the sudden loss of his mother, Tyler moved back to his hometown, Jupiter, Florida, to reunite with his family and finally achieve his goal of launching his business, Image One. With the help of his team members, […] Tyler builds his company from the ground up, exceeding his clients’ expectations one home renovation at a time.”

The combination of a renovation format with the strong personal narrative of Tyler Cameron gives Going Home a unique path to building its own audience. It’s able to become more than the sum of its parts. 

3. Beast Games

Beast Games is an upcoming reality TV competition series set to be hosted and executive produced by Jimmy Donaldson, aka “MrBeast,” one of YouTube’s most legendary creators. Details about the competition are still relatively thin, but here’s how Prime Video’s official press release describes the show:

“Based on his already successful YouTube show, Beast Games is set to become the biggest reality competition series ever with 1000 contestants competing for a $5 million dollar cash prize which will be the biggest single prize in the history of television and streaming.”

In other words, go big or go home. For his own part, MrBeast says that it’s his goal “to make the greatest show possible and prove YouTubers and creators can succeed on other platforms.” As of the time of publication, no official release date for Beast Games has been announced, but the sheer volume of contestants and prizes is sure to draw an audience whenever the show drops. 

Understanding why Prime Video is a streamer to target

For producers shopping their unscripted projects, Prime Video is an interesting target for several reasons. However, the most compelling argument might just be the one listed directly in the name. 

The fact that Prime Video is integrated within Amazon Prime itself is a unique advantage that no other streamer can hope to match. In terms of raw accessibility, it’s simply bigger than most of the other networks and streaming platforms. Anyone with an Amazon Prime account can watch shows on Prime Video. 

However, this integration also causes an interesting side effect. Because of its connection to one of the largest tech and e-commerce companies of all time, Prime Video seems less rigidly defined than many of its streaming competitors. 

As an entertainment brand, Prime Video is still relatively open-ended. The platform’s programming choices, therefore, might be less boxed in compared to networks with a more established aesthetic. 

These two separate ideas come together to form a unique balance that might make for a unique opportunity. Prime Video arguably mixes the relative open mindedness of an entertainment upstart with the stability of a much larger brand. The ability to take calculated risks and remain secure is rare in television, especially in the age of streaming content. 

With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the trends demonstrated by Prime Video’s programming choices and analyze what they say about the platform’s content strategy in the near future. 

Determining what Prime Video wants next

If we carefully consider the current and upcoming unscripted series listed above, a few clear trends emerge in Prime Video’s programming choices. 

In this section, we’ll make three distinct observations and break down what they might suggest about the future of unscripted television on Prime Video.

1. Prime Video is building an international audience

International programming is clearly a priority for Prime Video. The starkest evidence of the trend can be found in the LOL: Last One Laughing franchise. Prime Video currently produces variations on the successful show in no less than 19 different countries around the world, all under the same LOL brand. 

The objective of building an international audience even seems to be reflected in Prime Video’s English-language programming. Compared to other streamers, the presence of unscripted series based in Canada (e.g. Luxe Listings Toronto), the UK (e.g. 007: Road to a Million, Clarkson’s Farm), and beyond (e.g. Luxe Listings Sydney) is more pronounced.

To some extent, the priority of international programming is likely due to Prime Video’s connection to the Amazon e-commerce ecosystem. It allows Prime Video to take aim at a global market in a way that its competitors simply cannot.

Producers should note that this does not necessarily mean that their unscripted series should explicitly aim for universal appeal. Specificity is still key. Notice that the foundation of the entire LOL: Last One Laughing franchise is that each series purposefully casts comedians who are specific to and popular within their home markets. 

2. Prime Video is betting on celebrities

While the value of star power in Hollywood films is always a hot topic, there’s a clear trend toward celebrity-based programming in unscripted television. Many networks and streamers, like Peacock and Hulu, have been betting big on the power of celebrity for years.  In this case, Prime Video is no exception to the rule. 

Both Prime Video’s current and upcoming unscripted slates are jam-packed with recognizable faces and names. Making the Cut leverages icons like Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. 007: Road to a Million puts Brian Cox in the hosting chair. The LOL: Last One Laughing franchise presents viewers with some most famous funny people from all over the planet earth.

Interestingly, Prime Video seems to feature a wider than average variety of celebrities who’ve built their own niche audiences. Mr. Beast, Jeremy Clarkson, Tyler Cameron, and others have developed followings either from outside or a specific niche within the traditional television ecosystem. 

For producers, this might suggest a potential in-road for unscripted projects starring talent with a unique, well-developed fanbase.

3. Prime Video is where craft content meets personal narrative

Construction and renovation shows belong to a tried and true genre in unscripted TV. However, the genre’s time-worn popularity has made it increasingly difficult for new series to stand out from the crowd. 

Prime Video seems to have found a novel method for cutting through the noise of power tool programming. Their current and upcoming unscripted slates feature multiple series that combine the problem-solving thrills of project management with the intimate drama of personal narratives. 

Friends in Low Places: Building the Oasis offers a shining example of the strategy. The show ostensibly follows the construction of a single, ambitious establishment over time. However, it’s anchored by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s personal connection to the country music community in Nashville. 

Clarkson’s Farm and Going Home with Tyler Cameron each offer a similar one-two punch for audiences. The former follows one man’s attempt to run a farm, while the latter follows another man’s attempt to build a renovation business. Both use a consistent cast of compelling characters to create a strong emotional foundation. 

This may suggest a prioritization of character over format by Prime Video, at least to some degree. If you’re selling another construction and renovation series, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make sure it has an engaging cast at its core. 

Wrapping up

As Prime Video’s unscripted programming continues to evolve, the platform’s roster of hits is sure to expand. Both producers and audience members should be excited to see what the streamer decides to release next. 

If you’re in search of the right unscripted market for your next project, be sure to check out our posts on unscripted programming at Peacock and Hulu’s unscripted slate.

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Last Updated 
May 7, 2024


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Loring Weisenberger

Loring is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and creative producer. His work has been commissioned by a diverse range of clients- from Havas Worldwide to Wisecrack, inc.- and has been screened around the world. Through a background that blends project development with physical production across multiple formats, Loring has developed a uniquely eclectic skillset as a visual storyteller.

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