World’s Biggest Bookstore Dips Toe Into Serial Entertainment

Is Jeff Bezos the new Aaron Spelling?

No, but Amazon Studios, the original content arm of Bezos’ company, is offering up a lot of episodic content today — 14 new pilots to be exact. Six of the 14 pilots from are aimed at kids. The other eight are Adult Comedies. Alpha House is a political comedy; Betas is a comedy about working at a tech startup; and Those Who Can’t looks to be about lame high school teachers; and so on.

Pilot Season on Amazon Instant Video-1

Before investing too deeply, Amazon wants to hear from people, a.k.a. “the crowd,” on which, if any, shows they liked. Presumably, the highly rated pilots will then be developed into full blown serial entertainment properties.

The programs are available exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video, which may make sense inside Amazon, but it results in yet another platform war. And since Amazon Prime is not linked to Apple TV, viewing is constrained to the third screen. Also, there are no Amazon trailers for these 14 pilots on YouTube. Amazon Studios does maintain a a YouTube channel, but the content there is a bit stale, given the new push.

Seattle-based GeekWire notes that Amazon’s push into the video distribution arena, means taking on the likes of Hulu and Netflix, who have been offering their own exclusive content.

Netflix, of course, created a hit with Kevin Spacey and House of Cards earlier this year. Yesterday, the company rolled out its newest program, Hemlock Grove, a chilling supernatural series based on Brian McGreevy’s novel. Unlike Amazon, Netflix is more than happy to provide a trailer for its programming on YouTube.

Netflix is also different from Amazon in that it is not testing its entertainment product on the Web. All 13 episodes of Hemlock Grove were uploaded last night. As fans begin to feast on one episode after the next — which is much easier to do, given that Netflix shows are available via Apple TV — Netflix may have another hit on its hands by Monday, and all the press that comes with it. What will Amazon have, by contrast? New data to pour over?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.