SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Amazon is letting viewers help choose its new lineup of TV shows, scuttling a secretive, wasteful process once reserved for Hollywood taste-makers.
The online retailing giant will let visitors from the U.S., U.K. and Germany watch, rate and critique 14 pilot episodes the company has bankrolled. Viewer comments will help the company decide what shows get the green light.
Amazon.com Inc. is riding a wave of Internet-fueled people power with crowdsourcing — the act of soliciting ideas from the masses — and crowd funding sites, like Kickstarter, which help generate fans and startup capital before would-be producers start filming.
Amazon is testing the market with kids’ shows and comedies. Going into full production will pay off if enough people sign up to pay $79 a year for Amazon Prime, a service that offers free shipping on orders, an e-book borrowing service as well as home and mobile access to movies and TV shows. Prime members will get access to the full original series when completed.
Alan Cohen, a producer of the Amazon comedy pilot, “Betas,” says Amazon’s new way of launching shows could offer show creators some relief from the pressure of network TV. “We’re not just playing that time-slot game.”