Will Amazon Have an Answer to Netflix’s Kevin Spacey Coup?

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is stepping up its competition with Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Hulu and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) in an announcement that the company will begin producing 5 original television series.

Netflix has seen success with several of its new original series, including the political thriller “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey, and the horror series “Hemlock Grove,” in addition to a highly anticipated fourth season of the cancelled cult-hit “Arrested Development.”

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Amazon’s 5 shows were chosen out of 14 pilots, using viewer feedback. Three of the shows, “Annebots,” “Creative Galaxy,”  and “Tumbleaf,” will be geared towards kids, a market that Hulu and Netflix have been missing, especially since Netflix recently lost a renewal with Viacom-owned (NYSE:VIANickelodeon. The shows for adults are “Alpha House,” a political comedy starring John Goodman, and “Betas,” a comedy about a start-up in Silicon Valley.

The new shows will be shown on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video Service by the end of this year and into early next year. Prime Instant Video is free for members of Amazon Prime, which offers free 2-day shipping in the United States and other services for $79 a year. The price for an Amazon Prime membership is less than a year’s subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus, both of which cost $7.99 a month, which adds up to $96 a year.

Back in April, Amazon posted all 14 pilots and asked viewers to give feedback. The company used viewer ratings, as well as how long people watched the episodes and which pilots had the most potential to become on-going series, in the process to narrow it down to 5 shows. Some shows that didn’t make the cut include “Zombieland,” a series based on the popular movie, and the “Onion News Network.”

Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said that viewers can expect to vote on more pilots in the future. ”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,” he said.

As Internet video sources replace traditional cable networks, Amazon is hoping that viewers will pay to subscribe to multiple video services the same way people have paid more to be able to watch multiple cable channels.

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