Amazon Sends a Greek Army to Attack Netflix

Updated isn't an airline, but it is picking its pilots.

The leading online retailer announced the shows that it will be bankrolling.

Alpha House, Betas, and three children's shows that don't have any Greek letters in their titles had their pilots picked up by Amazon. Amazon and its overseas subsidiary LOVEFiLM provided free pilots for several shows earlier this month to their viewers, letting online democracy dictate which shows get financed.

Production of a full series of episodes for each of the five shows will result in content that will air exclusively on Prime Instant Video between now and early next year.

This is naturally a different approach than what Netflix has done in putting out more prolific content. The leading video service has now introduced four first-run shows through its streaming platform, highlighted by February's critically acclaimed House of Cards and this past weekend's debut of the fourth season of Arrested Development.

Both approaches are smart. Netflix has enough streaming data to know the type of content and the stars that subscribers gravitate to. When you're serving up more than a billion hours of content a month it's easy to make educated decisions. Amazon doesn't have that luxury on the streaming end, though it's certainly armed with plenty of retail DVD sales data. However, letting viewers dictate a show's success makes them vested in its future. When the shows do begin rolling out later this year, they won't be entirely unfamiliar.

These aren't the only two approaches.

Google may be working on some original content of its own through YouTube. It recently allowed some of its higher-profile video makers to roll out premium subscription channels. It also opened up a production studio in Los Angeles to help improve the skills of its more popular channel creators.

It's still hard to bet against Netflix. As far as premium subscriptions go, no one else comes close to its reach, and that will make it the top choice for aspiring content producers.

Amazon may screen some cult hits in the coming months, but the five new shows are unlikely to generate the kind of buzz -- or audience -- that Netflix has amassed for its original programming.

Bezos is no Bozo
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