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Amazon quietly rolled out a new platform today that lets some of its most avid TV and movie watching users weigh in on original pilot episodes for its Amazon Prime Instant video service.
Amazon already invites people to check out the entire crop of pilot episodes it orders, allowing even those without a Prime membership to rate and comment on each of them — with that feedback playing a role in whether the company decides to order a full season of the show. (For example, a TV version of hit movie Zombieland was stomped out of existence thanks to a very negative reaction from fans.) The new platform that rolled out today, called Amazon Preview, actually goes much further.
Amazon Preview invites a small group of Amazon customers — specifically those who watch a lot of TV or have plenty to say about what they do watch — into the entire production process that goes into making an original pilot, as noted by AllThingsD, who first spotted the new platform. That means some customers will be able to review pilots, view test footage of a show, see concept art, look at original storyboards, and provide feedback about how to improve a show.
TV networks do some testing with sample groups (the episode of Community where Shirley and Pierce give TV execs their thoughts on an American version of Inspector SpaceTime comes to mind), but I’d imagine it’s nowhere near as involved as what Amazon is doing. Amazon Preview obviously isn’t advertising its existence, since it doesn’t want everyone’s feedback on original series. Giving everyone an equal say in a creative work could prove either disastrous or brilliant, as former Esquire columnist Chuck Klosterman once theorized while dissecting Snakes on a Plane.
Obviously, we don’t know if this process will help Amazon craft a hit TV series because the company is just barely getting started with its original shows. While I want to say feedback from these smaller TV geeks will improve a new show, it could very well run the risk of ruining it as well. There’s a balance between giving people what they want based on what people tell you they want, which Amazon will need to find for this new feedback to be useful.
For those of you who feel worthy to share your opinions on future original shows, the company is allowing people to sign up on a waiting list for access to Amazon Preview.