Amazon Video: You Watch Us, We’ll Listen to You

I love Netflix. In fact, my weekend plans entail curling up on the couch with leftover Halloween candy and binge watching whatever new show catches my fancy. I’m especially fond of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Netflix has struck gold with their original series.

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In fact, their original content has become so popular that competitors Amazon and Hulu want a piece of the action and are producing unique series of their own.

Amazon announced yesterday that it will be creating two hour-long pilots for free on Amazon Instant Video and letting users decide which shows should be made into a full series.

In a press release sent out yesterday, Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios, said “For the first time we are bringing Amazon customers hour-long programming and we can’t wait to hear what they think of these new stories.”

Amazon has used this cushion-y crowdsourcing before. It released 14 half-hour pilots in April – six children’s shows and eight comedy shows – with the intention of picking at least one children’s show and one comedy. It ended up producing three children’s shows and two comedies with the positive viewer feedback.

Now they’re hoping the same feedback strategy will work with the hour-long series. They’ll give viewers a taste of the content and let them serve as a massive focus group for feedback.

shutterstock_112693879Meanwhile, Hulu has been throwing pasta on the wall to see what sticks with their series. They have everything from comedies (The Wrong Mans) to documentaries (Behind the Mask) to animated shows (The Awesomes). They’ve been steadily rolling out their shows through the year, but none have risen in fame quite like Netflix series have.

Variety reported that in Q1 of 2013, Netflix made up 67% of the streaming market share, Hulu Plus held 10%, and Amazon Prime owned a paltry 2%. The data was based off of users who only used one video streaming service as opposed to multiple. This was almost a 10% drop in market share for Netflix, which had 76% of the market share a year prior.

Hulu and Amazon both have edges that could help them win over viewers from Netflix. Hulu links to the most recent episodes of shows on major networks like NBC, ABC, and CBS. If I miss Parks and Recreation this Thursday, I can watch it over the weekend on Hulu.

Many Amazon series are free to Amazon Prime members, a membership program that mainly promotes free two-day shipping. Prime users are already paying for the service because they love having their packages arrive in a timely manner, so they could be inclined to check out Amazon Instant Video since it comes in their membership benefits.

Video streaming companies are hoping to lure viewers off of old-school TV viewing and onto their subscriber with unique content. If you’re on the fence about joining Netflix or Hulu, one of their original series will sway you. Maybe you’ll Amazon Prime just to watch that series and then stick around for the great content.

Of course, if you are on the fence, I recommend Netflix so we can talk about which shows we watched with our cats over the weekend.

Happy binge watching!

About the author

Amanda Dodge