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Amazon becomes new competitor for TV viewers

If you still think of Amazon as a giant Internet retailer of mail order goods, think again. Amazon Studios is now in business, and it promises to shake up an already competitive Internet television market with a schedule of new programming. Amazon recognizes that content ownership brings value and new revenue for the multiplatform world.

A slate of new shows, selected with feedback from Amazon’s own customers, has been given the green light to begin production and will “air” exclusively on Prime Instant Video later this year and in early 2014. Amazon’s “Prime” started for customers who wanted free two-day shipping on retail orders, but has now expanded to video viewing as well.

As a “pop-up” studio venturing into scripted programming, Amazon Studios is seeking to expand to become a major subscription video service provider.

“We are thrilled at the enthusiastic customer response to our first original pilots,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows. It’s exciting to see the process in motion, doing exactly what we set out to do. The success of this first set of pilots has given us the push to try this approach with even more shows; this is just the beginning.”

Garry Trudeau, creator of "Alpha House," one of the new series chosen, said he's happy "to have emerged safely from this harrowing exercise in online democracy.” The show is a political comedy starring John Goodman with a cameo from Bill Murray.

Michael London, executive producer of another selected series, "Beta," expressed similar sentiments.

“After many sleepless nights scrutinizing the number of stars we were getting online, we’re excited that both Amazon and the Amazon customers have given us a vote of confidence to move forward with a full season of 'Betas,'” London said. “This is only the beginning for our young social media players, and we are excited to push them out in the big world to see if they sink or swim.”

Since its launch in November 2010, more than 15,000 movie scripts and 3600 series pilot scripts have been submitted to Amazon Studios. There are currently 24 movies on the development slate and in the processes of being tested with audiences. The original series are the first set of shows for Amazon Studios.

Amazon Studios continues to invite series creators to upload their proposals for comedy and children’s programming at submit them privately via Amazon Studios.