retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Amazon, having won Golden Globe awards last weekend for its "Transparent" series that is available for streaming by its Prime customers, yesterday released seven new drama and comedy pilots that can be seen and judged by its shoppers. The idea is that viewers actually can weigh in on whether the pilots should be turned into series, as they did with projects like Garry Trudeau's "Alpha House" and Michael Connelly's "Bosch."

Among the new shows are pilots produced by Carlton Cuse, who is best known for "Lost," and Shawn Ryan, who made "The Shield," signifying the degree to which content providers are turning to what we would define as non-traditional outlets to sell their wares. This places ever-greater pressure on traditional outlets - like broadcast and cable networks - to produce edgier and differentiated content that can draw in viewers.

Amazon's big hire yesterday was someone who admitted that he had no idea what he was going to do with it - Woody Allen, who made a deal to write and direct his first TV series.

"I don't know how I got into this," Allen said in a statement. "I have no ideas and I'm not sure where to begin. My guess is that (Amazon Studios chief) Roy Price will regret this." Unlike the other producers, Allen has received a series commitment - he will not have to do a pilot and have it judged by Prime members.
KC's View:
At some level, I think it is interesting that Amazon was willing to make a deal with Allen, who is a controversial figure because of allegations and questions about his sexual conduct. Like Bill Cosby, he's never been charged with any crimes, but like Bill Cosby, he's also been judged to some degree in the court of public opinion. (Also like Cosby, I would point out, it is fair to suggest that he's lost a couple of miles off his fastball and his curve doesn't break like it used to.)

I do think that one of the things that people like me will eventually have to do is stop drawing distinctions between traditional and non-traditional programming outlets. Just like in food retailing, where customers don't necessarily think about format when they make shopping choices but rather focus on who has what they want when they want it, these boundaries are breaking down when it comes to what we watch on our large flatscreen TVs or our laptop screens or whatever piece of equipment we happen to be using. It simply doesn't matter ... we just want content that is relevant and interesting and entertaining.