Original Online Content: TV Pilots Finding New Audiences

Online streaming companies are beginning to pursue primetime programming. Amazon is producing original content now; Netflix is following its successful “House of Cards” with four more original programs; Microsoft is working on programming for the Xbox gaming console; while AOL, Sony and Twitter are all likely to follow in these footsteps. Will these companies change the way we watch TV?

They are, “in effect, creating new networks for television through broadband pipes and also giving rise to new rivalries — among one another, as between Amazon and Netflix, and with the big but vulnerable broadcast networks as well,” writes The New York Times. “These are the very first lab tests in a very grand experiment,” said Jeff Berman, president of BermanBraun, a media company that makes programming for NBC, HGTV, AOL and YouTube, among others.

All of this new content is seen as a positive thing for viewers, writes the article. It means more choice. And for actors and producers, it means more avenues through which to create content. “But the trend may inflame cable companies’ concerns about cord-cutting by subscribers who decide there’s enough to watch online. At the same time, the rise of Internet-only shows may make viewers more dependent on the broadband cord. In many cases, though, both cable and broadband are supplied by the same company,” details NYT.

Though there have been earlier attempts at Internet TV, it seems more promising now than ever, largely because companies like Netflix and Amazon are able to throw big money at production. For example, each of the upcoming Amazon “comedy pilots cost the company upward of $1 million, according to people involved in their production, which is less than the $2 million invested in a broadcast comedy pilot, but more than is typically invested in cable pilots,” explains the article.

And analysts are not expected a slow down. In fact, “they expect more TV investment to come, including from companies that do not have monthly subscribers to please. YouTube, for instance, the biggest video Web site of all, makes its money from ads, not from subscriptions. But it has paid dozens of outside producers to start channels so that it has original, professional content. And its owner, Google, can afford to pay many more,” according to NYT.