It’s official: after months of waiting, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced Wednesday that it will start producing original television shows.
“Amazon Studios wants to discover great talent and produce programming that audiences will love,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. The company plans to create original comedy and children’s programming to be streamed through its online service, Amazon Instant Video.
Amazon will search for new scripts and plans to option one new project per month. An optioned project will earn its creator $10,000, and projects that are turned into full series will earn creators $55,000 and up to 5 percent of royalties. Price said the aim is to have Amazon series of the same quality of traditional television series, which include healthy production budgets.
The move to produce original series is being led by Joe Lewis, an industry veteran with experience at major studios including 20th Century Fox, owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS), Comedy Central, owned by Viacom (NYSE:VIA), and the cloud-based network, Bark Industries. At Comedy Central, Lewis was responsible for the popular series Tosh.0, which brings viral Internet videos to television with a side of snarky commentary.
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) introduced its first original series, Lilyhammer, in February. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is also reportedly focusing on original content. Competitor Hulu — a joint venture of News Corp., Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and Disney (NYSE:DIS) — has plans to spend $500 million on television and movie programming this year. Original series could potentially increase subscriptions to Amazon Prime, the $79 per year service that provides members with free expedited shipping and unlimited television and movie streaming.
Amazon currently has 15 scripts in development and has received more than 700 test movies and 7,000 scripts since the launch of Amazon Studios in November 2010.