Amazon Studios, the multimedia studio section of the online retailer Amazon, has chosen five completely original series to become available through Amazon’s online video service, which should be available at some point later this year.
Amazon Studios has been quiet since its creation in November 2010. In 2012, the studio released the comic “Blackburn Burrow”. The comic received mixed reviews from readers and has not been updated since.
In April of this year, however, Amazon released 14 pilots to Amazon and LoveFilm users with the idea being that the customers would help decide what shows should go on to be aired. After feedback was received, the studio decided on five. Along with these five shows, Amazon Studios is also currently testing and developing 24 different movies, with Warner Bros. being a major partner in some of this.
Most noticeable amongst these new shows is “Alpha House”, a comedy starring John Goodman of Roseanne fame in which Goodman plays one of four errant Republican senators who become roommates in a house in Washington D.C. The other comedy approved for airing is “Betas”, a show following four silicon-valley friends who are looking to strike it rich in the lush market of cell phone apps. In addition to these two comedies that are geared towards an adult viewer, Amazon has also approved three children’s shows. Noticeable amongst these three is “Creative Galaxy”, from Angela Santomero, the mind behind “Blue’s Clue’s”.
This release of new shows to air from Amazon could not come at a more opportune time. The market for online viewership iss constantly in flux between Netflix and Hulu. As of this week, Netflix will be losing over 1,800 of their titles. Netflix was unable to renew agreements with larger studios such as MGM, Warner Bros., and Universal and the licenses on many popular programs and movies such as South Park and the James Bond series. A Netflix representative stated that the Netflix service is dynamic and ever-changing, titles are released to the catalogue and some are taken away, “this ebb and flow happens all the time”.
The other contender for top dog in online video service viewership is Hulu. Hulu has also been receiving renewed criticism for the commercials that are part of the company’s deal with networks for the licensing and providing of their shows. Each episode viewed on Hulu is interrupted multiple times with one or two minute long commercials. This goes against what many consider to be the best part of online TV, no commercial breaks. This inclusion of commercial breaks, even after a monthly subscription, keeps many away from Hulu Plus.
The question now becomes, can Amazon Studios and Amazon Instant Video become a contender for the crown of online TV and movie service? This may seem unlikely but remember that there was once a time when Blockbuster was the insurmountable king of movie rentals. With Netflix posting continued loss in viewership of 8 percent after the moderate reviews of the highly anticipated return of Arrested Development, the vacancy at the top may soon present itself for a service that is able to provide what the viewers want at a price they are willing to pay. One thing is for sure, though, if Amazon Studios wants to dethrone Netflix and Hulu, these five television shows need to be fantastic.