A few months ago, Amazon (AMZN) announced that its Amazon Studios arm would be receiving submissions for original programming on its streaming service. As one might expect, the company was quickly flooded with more than 2,000 entries from aspiring television producers hoping to get their big break from this new opportunity. Now, after months of screening through the pilots, Amazon has finally chosen the six program that it will co-produce.
While most experts initially thought that this venture would be an exercise in "crowdsourcing” -- or that it would at least offer ordinary people a chance to make their own shows -- most of the television programs seem to be produced primarily by TV veterans or creative minds with previously established reputations. While the public might be disappointed that only one show is staffed by unknowns, this decision is bound to assure investors that Amazon is taking the selection process seriously and is trying to get the best talent possible.
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The six programs are as follows:
Alpha House is about four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington, DC. The show is created by Garry Trudeau, the famed creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, and the show Tanner '88 for HBO.
Browsers is "a musical comedy set in contemporary Manhattan that follows four young people as they start their first jobs at a news website,” created by former head writer of The Daily Show David Javerbaum.
Dark Minions is an animated series "about two slackers just trying to make a paycheck working an intergalactic warship,” created by The Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie.
The Onion Presents: The News is set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network.
Supanatural is an animated series about "two outspoken divas who are humanity's last line of defense against the supernatural.” Kristen Schaal (pictured), another member of The Daily Show, heads this project.
Those Who Can't, which is the only show to be made by untried talent, is "about three juvenile, misfit teachers."
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The new guys behind that last show are bound to feel the pressure of being compared to such accomplished producers -- but then again, so is Amazon. As previously stated, the media streaming industry is going be a big source of profits for Internet companies in the future, and the war to be at its head is in full swing. Every other streaming company has its own strategy to pull in customers: Netflix (NFLX) can make entire seasons of shows available at once; Hulu subscribers can access most network TV shows; and YouTube (GOOG) encourages independents to produce content for its site. As such, Amazon offering original content could be Amazon's best bet at staying in the game.
While Amazon Prime is a well-valued service for other reasons, its video section is still a bit lacking. Worse, Netflix's acquisition of the Disney (DIS) license will most likely prohibit the service from getting big releases in the future, such as Marvel's superhero films, the upcoming Star Wars movies, or even content from Disney's television and movie studios. Amazon may be taking a gamble by investing in its own production studio, but if it keeps offering new opportunities to the best in the industry, the pay-off could be just what it needs.
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