Category: "Web"

Rating Pilots: Doing TV Execs Jobs for Them

  05:52:00 pm, by Jeancey   , 540 words  
Viewed 4095 times since 02/12/14
Categories: TV/Movies, Web

Amazon Studios, which is the studio half of Amazon Instant Video, released 10 new pilots last week for everyone to watch, rate, and choose from. This is part of their new strategy to replace TV, but more importantly, replace Netflix as the hub of all original internet TV programming.  What makes Amazon's strategy different is that instead of having executives decide what the consumer wants, Amazon is letting the consumers decide for themselves. There are many issues solved by this, but also several problems raised as well.

The first issue solved by creating TV shows this way is that it is much, much more cost effective.  Instead of finding out that the show you spent millions of dollars creating is terrible and no one likes it as soon as it is released, Amazon can find out that no one likes the concept for just tens of thousand dollars, the cost of a single episode. Likewise, once it finds a show that people like, they can be assured that the show will then do well, as everyone has already commented on it. This will allow them to produce more popular shows than Netflix or any of the traditional TV studios.

The second issue solved by doing this is that it allows for more variety for the consumer to choose from. Because the cost of a single episode is so low, Amazon can produce many pilots when Netflix can only produce one or two full new shows in a given year. This means that if the consumer doesn't like one of Netflix's new shows, they are out of luck, but if they don't like one of Amazon's pilots, they have another nine to choose from. This variety could also allow for shows that traditionally haven't done well in prime time to find a place to come into their own and thrive. Genres like steampunk could find a home here. Also (and why this is somewhat relevant to the blog) video game based TV shows could be created, whereas in the mainstream TV world, they would never get passed the pitch table.

One of the problems that is newly created by this format would be actor availability. Let's say you shoot a pilot with Actor A.  That shooting takes place, a month later the pilot is released to the public, two months of ratings and commentings and then the pilot is greenlit as a full show.  In the three months since Actor A shot the pilot, he has now been cast in a large movie production and your star actor from the pilot is no longer available to shoot a full TV season. This can be mitigated somewhat by drafting a preliminary contract for the actor before shooting the pilot, but that would defeat one of the purposes of the pilot to the people format, being able to quickly and cheaply cut shows which don't do well without spending large amounts of money on them.

While these aren't the only issues solved by this format, nor is this problem the only one raised by it, Amazon Studios has certainly found an extremely unique way of getting its product to the masses.  You can read a review of several of the new TV pilots here.

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