Jason Del Rey

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Amazon Studios May Crowdsource Selection of Its Web TV Show Pilots

First, Amazon wanted your help in deciding which of its original Web series pilots got the green light to become season-long series. Now it may be asking for your help much earlier in the screening process.

Amazon Studios series Alpha House

Amazon Studios series “Alpha House”

Amazon Studios boss Roy Price said in an interview last week that he’d love to figure out a way to get viewer feedback on show ideas before a pilot is even created.

“The ideal thing would be to get more feedback earlier, and that’s something we need to work on,” Price said in an interview at Amazon headquarters. “Is there a way to test a concept, short of making a full-blown pilot? To test 100 ideas in some modest way, while knowing it can’t be so modest that you can’t learn anything from it?”

Price is pretty confident the answer is “yes,” but said he’s not yet sure what that pre-pilot test might look like.

Amazon certainly could use the early feedback, since it has an online script-submission process that has resulted in several thousand scripts being uploaded to its site.

It has agreed to option five of the 14 pilots, and has also ordered more scripts from the creators of “Those Who Can’t,” Price said.

The five green-lighted shows all came through traditional Hollywood channels, but Price said Amazon’s next batch of pilots will contain “a really special show” based on a script that was uploaded to Amazon.

“We will get a show out of it; I am confident of that,” he said of the nontraditional script-submission format. “And I’ll be happy that we took this approach.”

There still remains one big question about the distribution plan for the shows Amazon has already committed to backing: Will they be released one at a time, like traditional TV, or in a binge-viewing-friendly dump, a la Netflix’s “Arrested Development”?

“If we release them all at the same time, my only concern is you deprive the audience of the chance, week to week, to talk about it,” he said.

At the same time, Price recognizes the benefits of binge viewing, and said that Amazon may opt for a hybrid approach — perhaps one in which a few episodes are released simultaneously, while others from the series are held back and rolled out one at a time.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work