‘Pachinko’ Producer on the Future of Series for Global Audiences

When Michael Ellenberg worked at HBO developing hit series including “Westworld” and “True Detective,” he was producing in a very difference climate than the one in which he finds himself now.

He’s nearly five years into his own production company, Media Res, where he works on the other side of the fence selling series including “Pachinko” and “The Morning Show” to a growing roster of buyers — in sharp contrast to the days when his previous employer had the field to high-end premium entertainment all to itself.

“There used to be, as you know, really one buyer for these kinds of shows,” Ellenberg said on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “For the really big stuff, there were never that many networks, right? So there’s way more than there used to be.”

Ellenberg dishes on what it’s been like to put together buzzed-about programming in the streaming era, including “Pachinko,” which just wrapped up its first season on Apple TV+. No word yet on whether there will be more episodes of the trilingual epic drama in the future, but he says Media Res is more than ready to make more of the critically acclaimed series if Apple gives the greenlight.

“We actually only finish a portion of the events of the book in Season 1,” he said of the Min Jin Lee novel. “So we figure there’s plenty more story to tell going forward, before and expanded on events in the novel, and she’ll continue to do so.”

In a streaming marketplace that plays to global audiences, “Pachinko” is typical of the kind of programming Media Res strives to sell, capable of appealing to broad swaths of audiences around the world.

“It seemed also like a unique opportunity to build a premium audience, where if you could draw from a Korean audience, an American audience, maybe a Japanese audience, Asian American and other immigration around the world, you could build a meaningful hit across multiple territories, right?” he noted. “So it didn’t have to be ginormous in any one space.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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