Will the Next ‘Golden Age of Television’ Take Place Online?

Netflix, Amazon and Hulu enter the content sphere with a key advantage, according to Werbach: data

In an industry first, the Netflix-only series “House of Cards” scored nine nominations — and three wins (for directing, casting and cinematography) — at the recent prime time Emmy awards. Netflix also scored nominations for a Netflix-only season of the sitcom “Arrested Development,” which previously aired on the Fox network.

While “House of Cards” was shut out of the acting categories it was nominated in, the Netflix original series is prominent in the company’s strategy to transition from purely a distribution engine for movies, television and other content to a creator of its own programming. And Netflix has plenty of company — fellow distributors Hulu, Amazon.com and YouTube are also developing their own slate of programs. According to Wharton experts, the Internet and the power of data analytics are creating new opportunities for companies to define their audience and target programming to viewers’ likes and dislikes more closely than ever before.

Meanwhile, Amazon last April released the pilot episodes for 14 new shows and asked for feedback from viewers to decide which would be given full series orders. Critical reaction to the pilots was mixed, but Amazon green-lit “Alpha House,” a political buddy comedy starring John Goodman; “Betas,” a show set at a Silicon Valley start-up; and three children’s programs. Like its submission process for the Kindle, Amazon accepts scripts from anyone, and then pays writers $10,000 if a project is chosen. If a developed script becomes a full-fledged series, the creator gets $55,000 and up to 5% of Amazon’s net receipts from licensing, royalties and bonuses.

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