What's on Amazon: The e-tailer's quest to make TV hits
By Alistair Barr
(Reuters) - A new show called "Alpha House," whose pilot filmed in New York late last month, has many of the ingredients necessary for television success.
John Goodman, coming off notable roles in Oscar-winning movies "Argo" and "The Artist," is the star. Bill Murray did a cameo. Stephen Colbert shot a teaser for the next episode of the series, which is written by "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau.
Yet this is not the project of a big movie studio or a television network but rather of Amazon.com Inc, the world's largest Internet retailer.
Amazon, along with Netflix, Google, Apple, Intel, Microsoft and others, aims to play a major role in the Internet-driven transformation of Hollywood. Like Netflix, it has decided that it must move beyond being a distributor of others' shows to producing top-drawer programming of its own.
"I'm always worried I'm going to be in a YouTube video," Goodman told Reuters during a break in filming at the cavernous Cine Magic Riverfront Studios in Brooklyn, New York. "But this is just the same as a TV set - full production value, great director, good technical people."
"I'm very interested to see where this is going to go - TV distribution over your computer," he added.
Amazon's approach mixes the tactics of traditional network TV with innovations from the online world. It does not sell a stand-alone video subscription service like Netflix - instead, it bundles streaming video with its Amazon Prime membership program, in which shoppers pay an annual fee of $79 for two-day shipping on most of their purchases from Amazon.com.
Amazon hopes original shows will encourage more people to sign up for Amazon Prime. The online retailer says Prime members tend to buy more goods, but it does not give specifics. Continued...