The Way Of Television
By Erica Lopez
Adding to last year’s online original series Alpha House and Betas, Amazon has released ten new pilots to their Instant Video section to be voted on by the consumer, who will determine if it will be made into a series.
Of the ten pilots for your consideration, five are children’s programs and the other five are adult dramas.The After comes from Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, and tells an end-of-the-world story in a thrilling, action series. The pilot follows eight characters who are strangers thrown together to survive in a post-apocalyptic world of violence and terror.
Based on Michael Connelly’s best selling novels, Bosch tells the story of a homicide detective who is standing trial for the murder of a serial killer while trying to figure out the mystery behind a young boy’s death.
Mozart in the Jungle allures viewers with the drama of what goes on behind the curtain of the symphony.
In The Rebels, a woman becomes the owner of a professional football team when her husband suddenly dies. And finally, Transparent is a drama about a family that unravels when a secret comes to light.
In a sort of worldwide market survey, Amazon will discern which of their pilots are “worthy” as decided upon by the response of the viewers. With every positive review, the viewer is casting their vote for the pilot that they would most like to see become a series and conversely, those with the fewest positive reviews will be let go.
Historically, television is left to the mercy of the viewing audience as to whether a series will get picked up season to season based on the loyalty of the viewership. The less popular shows are weeded out, leaving the stronger television series to carry on, feature higher profile actors and earn more valuable air-times.
And though the structure of the Amazon pilots is very similar to television in the way that the shows are ultimately decided upon by the action, or lack thereof, of the consumer, Amazon is making it harder for outcome of a show’s popularity to be left to the viewer’s apathy. By hosting them online free of charge, viewers can watch each pilot at their leisure, removing any argument for an inconvenient air-time as can be the case for cable television (despite the genius of DVR). After watching, the audience gives their opinion in their review- a palpable and calculated piece of information that gives the viewer a sense that he or she has made a contribution which is also incentive to watch the shows in the first place. Amazon pilots are actively changing television as we know it by engaging the audience, encouraging them to participate instead of allowing television to happen to them.
Watching television online seems the natural and inevitable direction to be headed. Netflix and Hulu have also produced their own original series; some of which have become great successes. HBOGo makes is easier for patrons to watch their favorite HBO programs online and many networks offer online viewing on their respective websites the day after the original series air-date. Mobile devices are even being made with television in mind and have bigger screens. Most of all, the instant gratification that comes from having television readily available without waiting week-to-week is very enticing and “binge-watching” is a an all too familiar extracurricular.
Amazon pilots represents the way of the television world and the retailer has simply made a very predictable step forward in allowing the viewing audience to be the judge. They understand that television has always been centered around consumer interests. Now this audience-driven medium will also be made by the audience.