Amazon Has Committed to Original Online Content

Amazon Studio’s new online programs have been a long time coming. As we get more and more of our entertainment online, cable television just doesn’t really make sense anymore. Babies born today may not know what’s so special about Saturday morning by the time they’re old enough to watch cartoons, because they will be able to watch their favorite programs any time they want.

The Netflix original series “House of Cards” has proven to the entertainment industry that original online content with top-tier writers and actors like Kevin Spacey can make money. It’s really no surprise that Amazon is now creating its own content with a slew of new pilots. “House of Cards” has actually proven a greater financial success than even Netflix expected, with the Wall Street Journal reporting a nearly 25% improvement in the company’s stock price.

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flickr image by pinguino

Online-only content is no longer a daring new frontier — it’s a switch that media providers cannot afford to miss. One of the last holdouts of the cable era, HBO, has made its name creating top-tier, movie-quality dramatic television. Its shows garner massive attention for their quality and are must-see TV for millions. But the network has sternly resisted making its content available online and expanding its reach. Currently, only HBO’s television subscribers can get its content online.

Amazon is working on at least six pilots for its Amazon Instant Video service. New series from retail behemoth include “Browsers”, a musical about the Internet scene in NYC; “Zombieland,” based on the movie of the same name; and “Onion News Empire,” from The business model being put in place by Amazon is innovative and will likely set a template by which future web-original content providers will follow — viewers vote on their favorite shows, and the ones that get the most votes stay, the ones that don’t are gone. This puts the job of executive producer in the hands of the viewers who will have a direct say in what sort of programming they are provided.

Television expert, Rasertech points out that the average cost for satellite packages comes to around $30 a month, while Netflix can be had for about a third of that (not including high-speed Internet connection), and Amazon Prime charges an annual fee of $79, which comes out to under $8 a month.

There’s still some great cable and satellite exclusive content, but for how long before HBO and other networks come around to the tremendous value of web content?

About the author: Owen Smith is a freelance writer and sports blogger living in Utah.

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