Amazon’s bold experiment to put their TV pilots online for viewer feedback is officially done.
Amazon Studios executives told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Saturday that the company’s innovative crowd-sourcing twist on developing content is no longer happening.
“I’d never say ‘never’ but that version is not something we’re doing,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “We’ll use our own testing barometers and some user data but the public voting process has been set aside for now.”
When Amazon first got into the original series game six years ago, the company tweaked the traditional broadcast pilot season by putting their pilots onto Prime for customers to stream and leave feedback. While such feedback didn’t unilaterally decide which shows were made, they were still a rather uniquely democratic twist on content creation. Series greenlights like Man in the High Castle came out of the process. It also helped generate early buzz on potential new shows and gave viewers the feeling they were part of a process that for decades took place entirely within TV networks and studios.
Part of the problem, Amazon’s co-head of TV, Albert Cheng noted, wasn’t their online innovation so much as the part of their process that was traditional — doing pilots in the first place, like the broadcast networks, rather than simply going direct to series. The company’s upcoming thriller Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, for instance, was straight to series. “One of the things we learned is it took too long to get shows customers wanted,” Cheng said. “You need up taking way too long to get the actual season done.”
Just last fall Amazon reiterated its commitment to the public pilot season, releasing this statement: “Amazon customer feedback on pilots has helped make some of the most critically acclaimed and popular series to date, including multi-Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series Transparent, multi-Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle, and the most-streamed scripted Amazon Original Series ever by Prime members globally, The Man in the High Castle, winner of two Emmys.”