Amazon picks five original series to vie with Netflix

You've got company, "Arrested Development." The two comedies and three kids shows will air exclusively on Amazon's site later this year and early next year.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
Amazon plans to release a full series of the comedy "Betas." Amazon
Amazon on Wednesday plans to produce five full series for its Prime Instant Video service, giving the online giant a foothold in the market for online original content.

The company said two comedies, "Alpha House" and Betas," along with three kids shows -- "Annebots," "Creative Galaxy," and Tumbleaf" -- will air exclusively on its site later this year and early next year. Amazon had released several TV show pilots on its site, and customers gave feedback that helped its series production arm, Amazon Studios, decide which shows should be made into its first original series.

"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," Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a press release.

Video streaming providers, like Amazon and Netflix, have branched out from simply offering studio-provided content to making shows of their own. Original and exclusive programming is a big differentiator for the companies, and the competition to secure such contracts has been fierce. Netflix, in particular, has done well with offering original programming. Its "House of Cards" series has proven to be a hit,and the company also recently debuted a new season of "Arrested Development."

Amazon launched Amazon Studios in November 2010. Since that time, more than 15,000 movie scripts and 3,600 series pilot scripts have been submitted to the company. There are currently 24 movies being developed and tested with audiences. The original series announced Wednesday are the first set of shows for Amazon Studios.

"Alpha House" is a political comedy about four senators -- including John Goodman -- turned unlikely roommates, while "Betas" is a comedy about four young entrepreneurs "attempting to make it big in techland" with a new mobile social networking app. "Annebots" is a series about a kid scientist and her robots, "Creative Galaxy" is about an alien artist, and "Tumbleaf" is about a "whimsical fox searching for adventure."