Amazon Studios, the film and television development arm of the online retailer, has debuted 14 new pilots on Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video in the US, as well as on the Lovefilm streaming service in the UK. The company’s test pilot program, which features eight comedies and six children’s shows, is an attempt to bring television-like original programming to customers, not unlike what Netflix is attempting with its own original programming slate.
What’s different here is the approach.
Netflix, in a fashion similar to how TV networks conduct business, picks the shows it wants to fund, while keeping in mind how likely it is that the program will succeed with its audience.
Amazon, on the other hand, is doing things a whole lot more democratically. Audiences in the US and UK will get a chance to not only watch all 14 pilots, but also review them. The audience feedback will help determine which shows get a “full season order” mirroring what we see in “Traditional Hollywood.”
By bringing the audience into the development and decision-making process, Amazon reveals that it understands how the content-viewer relationship works on the web.
“In the digital, on-demand world, you really have to have that passionate fan base, because there are no hammock shows, there’s no 8:30 show. It’s important to reach out to consumers on a large scale and see what they’re interested in,” Roy Price, the man leading the charge as director of Amazon Studios, told The LA Times.
“Amazon’s DNA is data and using data to drive the service. Amazon’s goal is to be the world’s most consumer-centric company,” added Simon Morris, Lovefilm’s CMO, speaking to Variety.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any similarities with Amazon’s biggest competitor, Netflix. If you look at Amazon Studios’ slate, it includes an adaptation of a popular comedy film (“Zombieland”), a political comedy starring John Goodman (“Alpha House”), and an educational show from veteran TV producers who have worked on some of the biggest kids TV franchises of all time (“Arthur” and “Blue’s Clues’). These are big shows with big names attached to them. Just like “House of Cards” and “Hemlock Grove” and next fall’s “Sense8.”
It’ll be fun to see how Amazon’s development model evolves as people watch and review these shows, and the “winning” pilots go into production.
All 14 pilots are available at AmazonOriginals.com. You can review the full list below: