The streaming video market has become very serious business, and Amazon today announced its latest talent grab for Amazon Studios to demonstrate its intent to own it: it has signed up none other than Woody Allen, the iconic writer, director and actor with a sometimes controversial private life, to write and direct a television series — his first ever.
“Untitled Woody Allen Project,” as it will be called, will run in a half-hour format, and it looks like the approach that Allen and Amazon will be going for will be as tongue-in-cheek, self-effacing and ironic as the name implies.
“Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all-time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series,” said straight man Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios, in a statement. “From Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year.”
“I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin,” Allen rejoined. “My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”
The series will debut on Prime Instant Video in the U.S., UK and Germany, with details about casting and broadcast dates coming in the future.
Amazon Prime Video is part of the Amazon Prime service, a loyalty-based program that Amazon runs featuring things like free shipping to encourage more orders from its customers. To sweeten the deal and get more people using it, Prime includes a bunch of extras exclusive to members, such as Amazon’s streaming music service, access to specific private-label products and the Prime Video streamed offering, which is where the Allen series will sit.
For now, Prime Video is not as popular as some of the other streaming options. According to numbers published by the GlobalWebIndex yesterday, it ranks fourth behind Google Play, iTunes and Netflix in terms of usage.
Amazon Studios, which launched in 2010, is the original content arm of the company. It has produced a number of other films and series including Mozart in the Jungle from Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Weitz, John Strauss and Alex Timbers; Transparent (which brought Amazon its first-ever Golden Globes wins earlier this week); and Alpha House. Other series slated for 2015 include Michael Connelly’s Bosch; Hand of God from Marc Forster and Ben Watkins; Red Oaks from Steven Soderbergh, David Gordon Green, Greg Jacobs and Joe Gangemi.