Media

Amazon posts 14 original pilots ‘for you to decide which shows become series’

shutterstock_113303614If you’ve ever sat up at 3 am with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, whining that there is “nothing good on TV,” soon you will have no grounds for complaint.

Amazon is giving you the power to decide what TV shows are made. The company has posted pilots for six kids shows and eight sitcoms, prompting the audience to choose which should become full-fledged original series on Amazon Instant Prime Video.

The kids selection includes shows about a kid scientist, magical adventures in Oz, and the journeys of Fix the fox. For adults, there is Zombieland (which is based on the hit movie), an animated sci-fi option called Dark Minions. Alpha House was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau about four senators, and Betas follows four startup kids searching for success in Silicon Valley.

TV, as we know it, is changing. TV shows are traditionally produced by an elite cabal of Hollywood executives and distrbuted through networks and cable providers. However, as people consume more and more of their content online, power is shifting and Internet companies are playing a bigger role in how we satisfy our cravings for entertainment, as well as what we watch.

Amazon Instant Prime Video has more than 33,000 movies and TV episodes that you can instantly stream across multiple devices. Over the past couple years, Amazon has kept busy signing licensing agreements with networks like A&E and NBC in an effort to catch up to competitors Netflix and Hulu. However, Netflix and Hulu both produce original content, which has proven a necessity for grabbing and holding onto a large subscriber base. Not wanting to be left in the dust, Amazon announced in May 2012 that it would develop its own lineup of original children’s shows and sitcoms.

Now the audience gets to decide. This approach is a reversal from how TV shows are usually made. In the past, it is more of a guessing game based on intuition, experience, and ratings. Shows get made and you hope people watch them. In this case, people are expressing their interest ahead of time.

However, for Amazon, this play is about more than staying competitive with Netflix and Hulu. Amazon has a range of other services, beyond entertainment. The video streaming service is one of the perks offered to people who sign up for Amazon Prime, a $79 per year premium membership, and original programming is part of the company’s strategy to boost prime memberships, which drive more business to its online retail store.

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