Amazon Invests Millions In Original TV Shows To Get You To Buy More Diapers

Speaking of corporate plots (ah, paranoia! how we love you!), here’s a commonsense look at the thinking behind Amazon.Com’s move into TV/video production.

buy-buyby Timothy Stenovec

Netflix. Hulu Plus. And now, Amazon.

The world’s largest online retailer is joining its streaming video peers and betting millions of dollars on creating original content.

Beginning later this year, Amazon Prime members — customers who’ve paid $79 for a year of free two-day shipping on millions of items as well as digital access to Amazon’s library of movies, TV shows and ebooks — will be able to watch several new TV shows the company is producing.

But unlike Netflix and Hulu Plus, Amazon’s goal, analysts said, is beyond simply getting revenue from subscriptions. The retailer may well be using expensive original content to lure more people to its Prime membership service, so they’ll be more likely to purchase products like cameras, books and K-Cups.

“Content is king,” Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group and the author of “What’s the Future of Business,” said in an email. “In an increasingly distributed consumption economy, Amazon is betting that content creates a bridge between Amazon, its products and services, and customers.”

According to a report from Morningstar, the investment research firm, Prime members shop more frequently than non-members, spend twice as much annually and tend to buy more expensive products.

Amazon won’t disclose how many people have coughed up for the annual Prime subscription. Morningstar puts that number at around 10 million. And Prime’s loyal membership is predicted to grow to 25 million by 2017.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s been an emphasis on adding Prime memberships over the last four years,” said R.J. Hottovy, the director of consumer cyclical and defensive research at Morningstar and the lead analyst on the report. He said Amazon’s foray into original content is “not only a way to keep the current Prime customers happy, but also drive a wider audience to the service.”

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Entertainment as a way to gather a crowd in order to sell it something isn’t new. It’s been with us since the dawn of civilization. And as writers we’re always happy to see new markets opening up, especially markets that don’t seem to be run by the same Old Media gatekeepers. But, c’mon, Amazon, can’t you give us something better than the dreck you recently ordered? We’ll buy more. We promise.

(Our lawyers made us do it dept.: Um, we’re speaking for TVWriter™ here, not for our beloved visitors.)

Oh, wait, that could be a lie too…

Hulu and Viacom are Staying in Bed Together

…And the sex relationship  is even better than ever!

Viacom is extending the deal that puts so much of its cable “product” on Hulu and, in fact, adding several new choices for Hulu visitors/viewers to, erm, choose.

Well, not exactly new. We’re talking mostly about shows like iCARLY, VICTORIOUS, and HOW TO ROCK, which are either formerly hot and watched on TV by only a ghost of their old audience, or just plain deceased although SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and the upcoming reboot of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES will be available on Hulu Plus.

The way TVWriter™ looks at it, if you were a Nickelodeon kid in the last decade and want to relive your youth, now’s a good time to consider signing up for Hulu Plus. But if you’re thinking about things your younger cousin or niece or nephew might like…hey, you’d probably be better off directging ’em to one of Disney’s 1002 rating champion channels because the Disney formula seems to be exactly what today’s pre-teen market wants.

In other words, while we think it’s great whenever any content provider makes more of its stuff available online we have to say that those in the know will have Viacom in a dead pool any minute now, with this attempt sadly proving to be a perfect case of too little, too late.

Just sayin’.

Don’t Tell Anyone, But This Show Marks a Breakthrough for U.S. TV

by TeamTVWriter Press Service

Hulu today announced its first international co-production with the BBC for the highly anticipated fourth season of Armando Iannucci’s political U.K. comedy “The Thick of It,” through a partnership secured by BBC Worldwide Americas. Beginning July 29, Hulu and Hulu Plus will be the exclusive U.S. destination for fans to watch every episode from the first three seasons of the beloved program, as well as the two specials released between seasons in the UK. “The Thick of It” was initially broadcasted on BBC Four in the U.K. and BBC AMERICA in the U.S. Hulu will also exclusively premiere the fourth season in the U.S., which will air first on Hulu and Hulu Plus day-and-date with the U.K. broadcast before returning to BBC AMERICA early next year.

Created and written by Armando Iannucci, acclaimed writer of HBO’s “Veep” and Oscar-nominated film “In the Loop,” “The Thick of It” takes a smart, satirical look at the inner workings of British government. Shot in a vérité style with hand-held cameras, Iannucci’s distinctive brand of comedy thrusts viewers into a world of political embarrassment, backroom deals, policy U-turns, spin-doctoring, political backstabbing and wild media speculation.

For television writers, the fact that Hulu has come to the financial rescue of this series should be regarded as highly optimistic because, quite simply, “The Thick of It” is widely acknowledged in the U.K. as the most foul-mouthed series in history. Meaning that this could mean a breakthrough in Hulu programming. And, who knows? Maybe the openness virus will spread.