Talking tech since 2003

Looking for some new video content to watch this weekend? If you don’t mind being a guinea pig, of sorts, Amazon has posted 14 television pilots online for users to watch absolutely free. The hope is that those who watch the Amazon pilots will rate and review them and, from there, Amazon will decide which pilots stay and which are shown the door.

Alpha House, one of Amazon's 14 TV pilots, stars John Goodman.
Alpha House, one of Amazon’s 14 TV pilots, stars John Goodman.

The decision to try out original programming and even put the money behind much of it — Amazon Studios owns many of the shows — comes after Netflix saw a great deal of success with its House of Cards series. That show, which stars Kevin Spacey, was on the receiving end of much critical acclaim. And, more importantly, it showed that a well-produced television series could exist outside the confines of a cable or satellite subscription.

Amazon, it seems, is ready to take that plunge with a few shows of its own.

Many of the shows are comedies with some familiar faces. John Goodman stars in Alpha House, while Jeffrey Tambor leads the cast of Onion News Empire. There is even a Zombieland series based on the movie of the same title, though it doesn’t look like Woody Harrelson or Jesse Eisenberg will be showing up in that one.

In addition to the comedies, there are also a couple of Amazon pilots for kids. That’s right — Amazon is looking to hook the whole family, not just those comedy or drama-loving adults. One show of note is Creative Galaxy, a show from Blue’s Clues creator Angela Santomero.

Amazon still isn’t sold on the House of Cards method of releasing all episodes at once. Amazon Studios’ Roy Price seems to recognize that the new medium offers new delivery options, but thought that a hybrid model might be the best approach. In an interview with CNET’s Dan Farber, Price said that “There’s no question that people watch a number of shows in a row, but in order to release all at once you have to hold back and the episodes pile on the shelf. I’m not sure that is in the spirit of maximizing customer choice.”

The Amazon pilots that make the cut will eventually wind up on the company’s Prime service, which costs $79 per year.

Are you excited that Amazon is getting into original programming? Let us know what you think below.

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