Back in March, Amazon Studios announced that it had ordered six comedy series pilots to debut on Amazon Instant Video, further proof that the current television model is desperate for disruption. Today those pilots are finally available, released into the hands of viewers here in the US and the UK.
Based on user feedback, Amazon will decide which of the pilots will be ordered for a full season available exclusively on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video network in the US and LoveFilm in the UK. In fact, Amazon surprised with two extra comedy pilots, as well as the simultaneous launch of six children’s series pilots which were ordered back in January.
While competitors like Netflix and Hulu are working on their own exclusive content offerings, Amazon has taken a different route. Hulu has been offering exclusive content for more than two years with a broad range of different offerings, whereas Netflix has gone big with one drama, House of Cards, delivered binge-style with a full season available at once.
Amazon, on the other hand, has decided to leave the power in the hands of consumers. User feedback will determine which of the total 14 pilots will become a real-life TV show based on ratings and reviews. Amazon will also monitor a number of other metrics like chatter on social media, focus group responses, and the general voice (or lack thereof) of the internet.
There are no hard and fast rules about how many series will be built into full seasons — it all depends on user feedback.
At first thought, I had some pretty serious reservations about this pilot-first, season-later ploy from Amazon. For one, it’s tough to fall in love with a show after 28 minutes, and only 28 minutes. And let’s say you do fall in love with Tallahassee, just a young guy in love in the middle of Zombieland, or the three charming young high school teachers in Those Who Can’t. How, then, do you stay interested while Amazon takes these shows back to the drawing board for full season production and development.
Yet, after speaking with the company about the reasons behind the decision (and seeing the content myself), it actually makes sense.
“To pick just one show would mean that we’re rejecting many other shows,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios. “We’re doing it this way presumably because we don’t believe in the guru model of television where we should just make decisions using our great wisdom. When you have the internet as a platform for your service, the right way to do this is to give people a sample and see what they like.”
As it stands now, a very small group of old rich people are the ones deciding which scripts become the shows we watch on Primetime and beyond. But what do they know? They might see me on the streets, but homie, they don’t know me. That’s why Amazon Studios deliberately wanted to do multiple series pilots at once, to offer a breadth of potential content to its users.
If you’re interested in checking out Amazon’s new comedy and children’s series, head on over to Amazon Instant in the U.S. or LOVEfilm in the UK and grab a bowl of popcorn. And be sure to tell Amazon what you think, lest you find yourself five months down the road wondering what became of your favorite characters.
We’ll be hitting you with a full review of the comedy pilots a little later in the day, but for now you can head on over to Amazon Instant to check them out yourself.