Amazon Merges Prime Video and Freevee Unscripted Under Chris Castallo
Ryan Pirozzi, Lauren Anderson, Chris Castallo
Amazon Studios is merging its Prime Video and Freevee unscripted teams under the oversight of reality TV vet Chris Castallo. Having previously focused on Prime Video fare, Castallo will now oversee unscripted for both outlets and report to Lauren Anderson, who was recently named head of AVOD original content and programming at Amazon Studios.
The move comes following a restructure inside Amazon’s ad-supported video on demand service. Earlier this month, Ryan Pirozzi was named head of Freevee, overseeing the business side of the streaming service, while Anderson was given oversight for programming, which includes development, production, licensing, scheduling, research and strategy for Freevee and Prime Video’s ad-supported FAST linear channels. Anderson and Pirozzi had formerly served as co-heads of content and programming for Amazon Freevee (the ad-supported video on demand service that had been known as IMDb TV).
Castallo previously reported to Marc Resteghini, the US/Global Head of Development at Amazon Studios. Castallo’s newly integrated team will now program unscripted fare across Prime Video, Amazon Freevee and Amazon Music and Gaming. The department is also responsible for ancillary businesses such as the “Watch & Shop” segment of Prime Video’s “Making the Cut” series, and handles live events such as the ACM Awards.
Castallo has served as head of unscripted television for Amazon Studios since 2018; he was previously head of development for Verizon’s go90, and before that headed up the alternative programming department at CBS.
At Prime Video, Castallo’s oversight has included the Emmy-nominated series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” as well as “Making the Cut,” “The One That Got Away,” “Forever Summer: Hamptons,” , the recently announced “Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge” hosted by Tamera Mowry-Housley; docuseries like “LulaRich” and “Phat Tuesdays”; and specials including “Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty” and the 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Freevee’s unscripted output has featured “Judy Justice,” “Hollywood Houselift with Jeff Lewis,” “Uniterrupted’s Top Class: The Life and Times of The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers,” “Play-Doh Squished” and “America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation.” Freevee’s unscripted team was a small group of execs who will now report to Castallo and be integrated into his team.
As for the structural change at Freevee, Anderson has been with Amazon Studios since 2019, first as the head of strategic content, managing series such as the “Savage x Fenty” Showfor Prime Video, before moving to IMDb/Freevee in 2020. Her work there included brining Judge Judy Sheindlin into the fold, as well as partnering with Dick Wolf on a half-hour project and developing the AVOD spinoff of Prime Video’s “Bosch” as “Bosch: Legacy.”
Meanwhile, in his new role as head of Amazon Freevee, Pirozzi will focus on business, marketing and product functions for the service, in addition to related advertising-supported video. Before joining IMDb/Freevee in 2020 alongside Anderson as co-head of content and programming, Pirozzi was head of worldwide TV and film licensing for Prime Video. He has been with Amazon since 2011.
Variety's Michael Schneider contributed to this post.