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On the surface, news that Amazon.com is looking to develop original programming to offer through their Amazon Instant Video feature makes it sounds like they're following in Netflix's bright red footsteps. And maybe in some respect their are. But Amazon isn't merely announcing their plans to get into the original programming business. They're also publicly reaching out to TV writers and creators and inviting them to submit their ideas to get their shows made.
Amazon Studios announced today that they're looking into expanding their development efforts for comedies and children's series. And with this announcement, they extended this invitation, inviting series creators to upload their proposals for potential distribution through Amazon Instant Video.
“Amazon Studios wants to discover great talent and produce programming that audiences will love,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “In the course of developing movies, we’ve heard a lot of interest from content creators who want to develop original series in the comedy and children’s genres. We are excited to bring writers, animators and directors this new opportunity to develop original series.”
Those who wish to have their ideas considered are asked to submit a five-page description and a 22-minute script for comedies (11-minute pilot script for children's shows).
Within 45 days of submission, Amazon Studios will either extend an option on the project for $10,000 or invite the creator to add the project to the Amazon Studios site. If a project is not optioned, creators may remove their idea from the Amazon Studios site or leave it to get community feedback.
And if the show is selected for distribution as a full-budget series, the creator gets $55,000 as well as "up to 5 percent of Amazon’s net receipts from toy and t-shirt licensing, and other royalties and bonuses."
The mention of t-shirts and toys brings us back to what I was saying earlier. No, Amazon isn't the first streaming video site looking to develop original programming, but the site is in a prime (heh) position to use their original programming to make money in merchandising. It's sort of like how they sell Kindles and make money off the e-books, except in this case the digital content comes before the toys. And on the subject of Kindles, Amazon Studio's invitation for TV show submissions seems similar to the way the site allows people to self-publish their books through Kindle Direct Publishing, except in this case, due to obvious production costs, there's a selection process on Amazon Studios' end. Still, it's a way for people to get their stuff out there, and another way for Amazon to make money. Whether or not they're successful with this endeavor remains to be seen, but it's certainly an interesting strategy.
It should be interesting to see how this works out for Amazon Studios and whether or not the site manages to find programming worth creating. We'll have to keep an eye out for updates.