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...because the e-commerce giant created Amazon Prime in 2005 as a way to offer it's members unlimited 2-day shipping for free (with a flat annual fee). To keep it's customers happy and expand it's reach around the world, Amazon eventually decided to add unlimited streaming video as another perk for it's subscribers. That has snowballed into an online content creation and distribution platform that is challenging the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The company has created a new model for making movies and television programs, tapping its vast web presence to crowdsource concepts. Amazon's mission is to seek out seismic industry shifts and position itself to be in the right spot for the new world order. Anyone who hopes to be writing stories for a mass audience in the next couple of decades should take notice. Gone are the days when creatives are at the mercy of a limited number of networks and channels to distribute their content. For Amazon, the process is about creating a platform that allows it to rethink the traditional approach to movie development. It lets the company jump into the media business and to only move ahead with projects that have enough positive buzz that they should be commercially viable.



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To attract the best storytellers available, Amazon Studios took a radical approach: ask writers to take the types of risks on projects that traditional networks and studios would never permit. Shockingly, this strategy has allowed writers to create interesting shows without an endless series of notes and passive-aggressive suggestions from executives. Well-established writers like “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway jumped at the opportunity to work in a more artist-friendly setting. And it turns out that accomplished actors and directors also like to work on high quality projects without studio or network interference. This has made Amazon Studios in to the top destination for new shows and films. Not too shabby when you consider that even with Amazon’s bankroll and distribution system, all this content is produced for the web!

If “Transparent” had been a total disaster, Amazon Studios might have gone the way of Current TV. Even if the “CSI” and “NCIS” franchises of the world get billions of viewers, every network wants to have the show that gets people talking. When it first aired, “Transparent” instantly became the “have you seen it?” show. This meant that Amazon Studios went from questionably being a television network to being the network with television’s most original show. The awards and accolades that “Transparent” has won since its first season completed have only served to validate Amazon Studios place among the cable and broadcast big shots. It also backed up Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' belief that letting storytellers take risks would ultimately lead to a better final product.

With its roots in the world of high tech, Amazon Studios also understands the value of user feedback and crowdsourcing. Yet they are one of the first media companies to apply these ideas to content creation as well. As a WGA signatory, Amazon Studios allows writers to digitally submit scripts privately for in-house evaluation or publicly for audience reaction from the Amazon community. The company also orders its television shows to series based on the overall response to the pilots, as opposed to the old model of network executives ordering pilots to series and waiting for Nielsen box owners to like them. Amazon Studios has essentially turned the process on its head by allowing audience input – and even idea submissions – from the very early stages.

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