Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

All New Amazon TV

Just last week I posted my views on the future of TV programming. Part of that synthesis concluded that the future involves programming that is unshackled by schedules. I made the suggestion that the model being pursued by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, through its Lovefilm subsidiary, might be the way forward. I also suggested that unlike the BBC, which is actively forging a similar path with its iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon would be unlikely to contribute to the general content slush pile.

Well, once again, I was wrong. I should consider making a career of this. Anyway, no sooner had the virtual ink dried and Amazon announced that it had funded a slew of original TV shows. They have had independent producers and writers create a host of adult comedy and children's cartoons. The programmes were launched in the UK on Sunday through Lovefilm and a couple of days earlier in the States apparently via Amazon Prime.

I've only looked at one of the pilots, a comedy about four Republican Senators sharing a crib in DC, starring John Goodman with a cameo featuring Bill Murray. It wasn't great, but pilots are a tricky field as the writers and the actors attempt to understand the character dynamics. Perhaps it is simply as suggested, though. They asked the simple question, why would Republican supporters want to watch a programme that made their politicians look stupid? Why would Democrats want to watch a programme about Republicans?  The question they didn't ask is why anyone would want to watch a programme about politicians.

But here's a couple of interesting points to fall out of the programming - first, Amazon want the viewers to report back on their views on the programmes. Most programming is judged by its viewing figures - I'm sure Amazon will consider them too, but this is looking more like the way books and CDs are rated. They might have some expertise in that department.  Second, it sounds like Amazon are hoping to provide a way for new writing talent to be found - extending the self publishing paradigm to TV writing. I'm not sure how they'll work, but I'll be dusting off a comedy that's sat on my hard drive for ten years or so.  Just in case.

The idea that TV scripting could follow a similar path to that forged by self published books is a compelling one. Obviously there is a cost element to be considered - ebooks technically only have to cost time, frustration and sanity. Even mediocre TV costs arms and legs. But an avenue for new writers to pitch their talents that breaks the industry mould - that's ballsy.

Take a look at the Amazon Originals, you may find something that works for you. And do provide feedback, especially if you enjoy the pilot you watch.


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