Monday, 22 April 2013

Scene 54: Amazon Originals - Vote For Your Favourite Comedy Pilot!

So, if you haven't heard several online companies such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube are planning too or currently airing, original shows produced or commissioned by them - and now Amazon has joined in.

Amazon has just aired a slate of pilot comedies and kids shows online, includng the television version of the film Zombieland and a stop-motion comedy written by the brains between The Big Bang, which are currently free for anyone in the US and the UK to watch online.

However, unlike traditional television or even like the other online channels Amazon is letting the public decide which of these pilots should be kept and turned into full series. It's doing this by not only letting people vote or rate the shows, according to the Los Angles Times, but by looking at which shows are watched all the way through and which are shared most on social media. 

Some have criticised this as gimmicky, but to be honest I think television shows have always been governed by a loose voting system - the audience viewing figures. If you like a show, you watch it weekly and add your number to the viewing figures, effectively voting for that show.

That doesn't mean however that certain shows don't get pulled because viewing figures are 'considered to low' or in the classic Firefly case, the channel fails to give the series a chance by putting it in the right time slot. 

This is what makes Amazon's idea for greenlight programmes so interesting, because it really has given the audience real decision power - and because all the content is online, there's no fear of missing your audience due to bad scheduling because its always available. 

On Amazon you can not only rate and review a programme in real time, but you can share the content through social media, so a few fans could potentially share and encourage a bigger fanbase through social media - and this would help vote that pilot in. 

Meanwhile programmes on BBC, ITV and 4OD channels may be shared and talked about over social media, but because those channels are still relying on television set audience figures, all that viewing time online does make much of an impression. For the Amazon pilots, social media and sharing is their direct link to gaining more viewers, more voters and a place as a full blown series. 

All in all, it'll be interesting to see what happens to the pilots and whether this system of direct audience participation and voting works or not. 

I shall be reviewing Zombieland the TV series pilot and the pilot for Dark Minions, the stop-animation from The Big Bang writers later this week. In the meantime go and watch and vote for yourself at Amazon and for more on the story, check out the BBC report

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