Amazon's pilot program leads to big weekend numbers

Steven Loeb · April 22, 2013 · Short URL:

Viewers asked to vote on 14 original pilots, eight wind up in Amazon's top 10 most streamed episodes

Amazon has taken a headfirst dive into the original content space over the last year or so. The company has created everything from its comic book, and its own games, even its own television series, with Amazon Studios creating 14 original comedy and kid show pilots.

But here's the twist: Amazon announced last week that is going to allow viewers to directly tell them which of the shows they want to see by voting, and giving the company direct feedback, on which pilots they were most likely to watch.

Its a bold, and revolutionary, way to go about producing new series. And, so far, it seems to be working really well.

Over the weekend, pilot episodes made up eight out of the 10 most streamed episodes across Amazon, it was revealed Monday. Though the company declined to state which of the shows were the most popular, it did also that the shows have already earned thousands of customer reviews, 80% of which had ratings of either 4 or 5 stars, the most a review is allowed the give.

“For the past year the Amazon Studios team has collaborated with some of the best actors and writers in Hollywood to produce top-quality shows. Now we’ve handed the remote to our customers to hear what they think,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “In just a few days the pilots have received thousands of helpful and sometimes hilarious reviews."

Six of the 14 pilots are children's shows: TumbleafTeeny Tiny Dogs, Creative GalaxyPositively OzitivelySara Solves It and Annebots. The other eight are comedies: AlphaHouse, BetasBrowsers, Dark Minions, Onion News Empire, Supanatural, Those Who Can’t, and Zombieland.

Viewers, who do not have to be Prime members to vote, aren’t just limited to one show that they are allowed to voice their opinion on, but are asked to take a brief survey and leave feedback on all their favorite pilots. So it is possible that Amazon could end up producing more than one of these shows.

In addition to viewer feedback, Amazon Studios will be looking at how long people watched each pilot, which pilots are being discussed via social media, and of course there will be focus groups.

This method of allowing the viewer to pick which shows get picked up stands in contrast other companies, like Netflix does, which mine their own data to try to guess what that its viewers would like.

While that seemed to work out fairly well for the David Fincher-produced House of Cards (though Netflix refuses to reveal what the ratings were for the show), the company's most recent series, “Hemlock Grove,” a horror thriller created by horror director Eli Roth, probably will not do as well, at least if the ridiculously scathing reviews are any indication.

Of course, the people who will vote on the Amazon pilots will be the ones willing to take the time out to do it, and might not be an accurate representation of what most people want to see. But it has to be a better system than simply trying to take elements of other shows and morph them into something worth seeing.

Amazon original content

In addition to its original pilots, Amazon has also been creating other types of original content.

Amazon launched Amazon Game Studios in August, along with its first social game. Living Classics.

The game features a family of foxes have to be reunited after wandering into scenes from classic literature, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and King Arthur.

Then, in November, the studio released its first mobile game, called Air Patriots, a tower defense game, which requires strategic positioning of an arsenal of planes to push back an enemy tank invasion.

Amazon also created its first digital comic, called Blackburn Burrow, in September. It described the comic as, “a story set in Civil War America where supernatural horrors are infesting a small Appalachian town in Northern Georgia,”

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