LOS ANGELES -- Amazon, the online retailing giant, is following Netflix and Hulu into the world of original online content. But unlike the other outlets, which have been selecting their programs the old-fashioned way (that is, executives putting their reps on the line to back a show), Amazon is going about things a little differently: It's asking viewers to vote on which shows will become full series.
Call it the "American Idol"-ization of entertainment programming, but Amazon is letting the people be their own programming execs by putting 14 pilot episodes on its website and then letting the audience choose which should move forward.
Of the shows that could become series, there's John Goodman in a congressional series from "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau; "Browsers," about young people working at a news website from "Daily Show" writer David Javerbaum and starring Bebe Neuwirth; "Betas," about four friends trying to strike it rich in Silicon Valley; "Onion News Empire," about a team of wacky news-gatherers; the high school teacher comedy "Those Who Can't"; "Zombieland," based on the movie; and the animated series "Dark Minions" and "Supanatural."
Kids shows include an Oz-set series called "Positively Oztively," "Sara Solves It," "Creative Galaxy," "Teeny Tiny Dogs," "Tumbleaf" and the partly live action "Annebots."
And those who think they can game the system by just voting for one show several times should think again. According to Deadline, Amazon executives won't just be looking to how many people "liked" a particular show. They're also looking to how many people watched the whole thing and how many people shared it on social media.
Additionally, focus groups are being recruited to discuss the episodes.
While it's unclear how many of the pilots will be chosen to become full series, it's a new way of looking at the TV business, which has traditionally kept unused pilots unseen and hidden from the public.
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