Crowdsourcing Entertainment: Netflix vs. Amazon

ArrestedDevelopmentS4Several of my friends waited up until midnight a few weekends ago when the 15-episode revival of Arrested Development season four, which was released in total on Netflix. Several of those friends stayed up late watching those initial episodes far into the evening and marked a new era in television viewing.  Reviews, of course, on this bonus season have been mixed, but what was noteworthy was this new method of developing and distributing entertainment.

What does this new model look like though? It begins with some sort of ideation platform on which companies poll their viewers to find out what they would like to see additional seasons of or even suggesting things that have yet to be created. Companies take this wealth of data (both quantitative and qualitative) and use it to develop new shows. 

Netflix, of course, has most notably used this research to option existing content and develop new content based on already-popular shows like Arrested Development and the remake of House of Cards.

Amazon, however, has used a different tactic. We’ve written about Amazon Studios in the past. But now they’ve finally aired some of their original pilots including Alpha House and Browsers offering the pilots for free on Amazon Instant and are tracking them across a number of different variables including how many views, length of views, social shares, and more. Based on those metrics, Amazon will evaluate its future investments. Perhaps in response to this trend, Netflix future programming (and other programs) show more original work in development.

The challenge is a rich enough environment that represents a cross-section of a provider’s viewership. Netflix and Amazon, of course, have some of the widest online audiences in the entertainment industry and can use a lot of information to deliver success to an audience from the get-go (although some of my friends who are Arrested Development fans might debate me on that). This likely won’t be a model that extends to burgeoning production companies any time soon.

What would you like to see developed (revival or original)? Do you think these practices will ever extend to independent series producers? Are we living in the golden age of television?

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