After awards coup, Amazon lands Woody Allen for TV series

Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:06pm EST
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By Eric Kelsey and Deepa Seetharaman

LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Woody Allen will make his first foray onto the small screen, writing and directing an online series for, the latest coup by deep-pocketed cable and streaming companies in luring the biggest names in film to television.

The Internet retailer rolled out the news of Allen's series on Tuesday, two days after winning its first major awards at the Golden Globes following years of experimentation with developing original programming.

The deal with Allen, 79, who has said he doesn't use email or own a computer, puts the filmmaker at the heart of Amazon's strategy to use original content to woo consumers to its $99-a-year Prime program, a vehicle for online shopping with free shipping.

"The end game for Amazon is just getting more people to buy into Prime, and this is their way of doing it," said Paul Verna, a senior analyst at market research company eMarketer.

"It's almost as if they use content to get people to buy into this program that is about a lot more than video content," Verna added.

Filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher and Guillermo del Toro have all made recent forays into television. Premium cable networks like Time Warner Inc's HBO and Amazon's online streaming rival Netflix have offered directors the chance and resources to tell longer-form stories over several episodes and hours.

"I think any program developer or producer or director who has a series or script or anything, at this point they're looking at Amazon as on par with Netflix and really the whole rest of the ecosystem," Verna said.

Amazon has been spending more on content overall, including $100 million in the third quarter alone on original shows, in the latest sign of founder Jeff Bezos' hunger to dominate businesses from books, to phones to entertainment.   Continued...

Director Woody Allen arrives for the premiere of his film "Magic in the Moonlight" in New York July 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson