Amazon Releases 14 TV Pilots — Letting Viewers Vote for More

Monica Gleberman | May 9, 2013

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Rumors have been floating all over the Internet about the possibility of Amazon Instant TV taking a cue from Netflix by developing and releasing its own set of original programming. The online retailer confirmed its plans to go virtual after releasing a set of 14 pilots, eight adult comedies and six shows for kids, online.

In a brand-new model, viewers are able to directly participate in fighting for something they like. After viewing the pilots, if you see something you like, rate it. At the end of the year, Amazon Originals plans on using the feedback to decide which shows should be picked up for a full-time series.

Some of the pilot highlights include Browsers, a musical comedy about interns at an online magazine; Alpha House, about a bunch of U.S. senators sharing a house — with big names like John Goodman and Bill Murray, its hard to pass that one up; and Onion News Empire, which follows four young interns who work at a news organization.

Amazon’s studio director Roy Price said it’s really all in the hands of the viewer. “They’ll be on the site for at least a month. One month after they’re up we’ll sift through the data. It will be a quite diverse source of feedback. You have simple metrics like how many people watched it and reviewed it, what their average rating was and what the reviews said substantively,” said Price.

“You also have offline focus groups. We have an online panel recruited from big Amazon movie and TV customers called Amazon Preview, where they’ll give more in-depth feedback. There’s going to be a lot of data and a fair amount of work.”

Although there will be a ton of data, Price said not all the shows will make the cut, but he is open to multiple shows in each genre being picked up for a full series. Price said Netflix’s method of filming an entire season of a series and then making it available through the streaming provider’s service all at once doesn’t work.

“In order to do that, you have to withhold the show from customers for a considerable amount of time until you accumulate enough episodes. Some people say it maximizes customer choice to put them up all at once, but I kind of think it’s the opposite. While you’re saving up all the shows, no one has the opportunity to see it.”

Regardless, the voting process seems to be enticing viewers. The company says it has seen an increase in online viewers and new sign-ups. Check out the pilots yourself on the retailer’s website or through the app.


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