Amazon's original TV ambitions are live. Starting today, web users in the US and the UK (through Lovefilm) can stream all 14 new pilot episodes created under Amazon Studios, the e-commerce giant's original content arm. Amazon wants web users to watch the pilots and vote on which ones the company should turn into full, season-long shows of about 13 episodes, which will then only be available through Amazon Prime. But one thing is certain: not all the new pilots will make it into shows. "We don't have any particular number of shows in mind," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, in an interview with The Verge. "We would like to see a few shows come out of the process. Seven would be a lot, but zero wouldn't be enough. So somewhere between there."
Amazon wants "somewhere between" zero and seven season-long shows
Amazon already offers other popular movies, network shows and cable titles including Breaking Bad as paid streaming options through its Amazon Instant Video service, or bundled through Amazon Prime, its $79-a-year subscription service (which also includes free 2-day shipping). But the crowdsourced Amazon Studios is a new direction for the company, one that could put it in competition with some of the very original TV and movie studios whose content it currently licenses, not to mention up-and-coming web-based original content producers such as Netflix. Amazon thinks that's a risk worth taking. "You want to be open to shows that are unconventional, that sort of defy the convention wisdom of a group of TV executives," Price said.
To that point, Amazon's 14 pilots, most of which were previously announced, run the gamut in terms of genre and production values. The more professionally produced titles include Sony's spin-off of horror-comedy film Zombieland and a new political satire called Alpha House, starring John Goodman, and written by Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau. But Amazon's pilot lineup also includes shows from lesser-known sources, including Those Who Can't, a comedy that was accepted from an entry in Amazon's online submission process, as well as six children's TV show pilots. "Our priorities are just finding shows that Amazon customers are going to be excited about," Price explained, "We're open -minded about where they come from and what the model is."
"You want to be open to shows that are unconventional."
US and UK customers can weigh-in on how Amazon is doing in appealing to them now here. German Lovefilm customers will get their chance in "a few weeks" according to Price, once the pilots have been dubbed into German. Watching and reviewing them requires an Amazon user account. Price said Amazon doesn't have a definitive timeline on announcing which shows have been greenlit for full seasons. So in that regard, we'll have to wait and see — just like with regular TV.