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'The Americans' Producer Talks Amazon Streaming, Piracy

10 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Writer and producer Graham Yost (“Justified,” Speed) knows just how important streaming will be for the second-season (and long-term) success of the FX series “The Americans.”

“Look at what Netflix did for ‘Breaking Bad,’ the huge bump the final season got from binge viewing,” said Yost, executive producer of the Cold War spy series, which debuts its second season Feb. 26. “It’s great for any show that has a serialized component. Sure, you could just watch season two, read up on what happened with season one, and have enough to get going. But how much more fun [is it] to know the whole show?”

Amazon announced Feb. 6 it will be the exclusive subscription streaming home of the first season of “The Americans,” beginning in March via its Prime Instant Video service. Between that and the Feb. 11 release of The Americans: Season One on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Yost like the show’s chances for a very long life.

“We’ve seen the same thing with ‘Justified,’” he said. “The more people watch it on DVD, the more people who watch it streaming, the better opportunity we have to keep those fans for subsequent seasons.”

Yost — speaking at an “The Americans” event that featured vodka tasting and tied into the kick-off of the Sochi (Russia) 2014 Winter Olympics — said there’s enough story for the series to go another five or six seasons, depending on the actors, the network and, especially, the fans.

“It’s a great spy show, and it’s set during the last peak of what we think of as the great spy rivalry, between the United States and the Soviet Union, the last gasp of the Cold War,” Yost said.

Disc owners get a ton of bonuses outside of (and including) the regular deleted scenes, gag reels and trailers. Series creator and producer Joe Weisberg (a former CIA officer) weighs in on a commentary for the episode “The Colonel,” and lends his insight into the Cold War spy game with the featurettes “Executive Order 2579: Exposing the Americans,” “Perfecting the Art of Espionage” and “Ingenuity Over Technology.”

But, when it comes to advancing recognition of “The Americans,” Yost admitted there’s a problem domestic streaming and disc can’t solve. While the series is gaining popularity in some parts of Europe, it’s not available in the former Soviet Union, including Russia. And that’s leading to piracy, he said.

“None of us likes piracy, because we don’t know how the model can continue, how we can do what we do, if people don’t pay for it,” Yost said. “If you can get it legally, I hope you pay for it. We depend on advertising, paying for DVDs, subscribing to a streaming service.”

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