By Sahil Patel
If the pilots of original shows like “Alpha House” and “Betas” weren’t enough, here’s how Amazon is going to try and convince you to subscribe to Prime (which runs for $79/year): The company will make the first three episodes of both of the aforementioned shows available for free to all Amazon customers.
“Alpha House,” a political comedy headlined by John Goodman, Cynthia Nixon, Amy Sedaris, and Wanda Sykes, will debut on Amazon on November 15. It will be followed by “Betas,” a comedy about Silicon Valley and its culture, which will premiere on November 22. Each show was picked up for an 11-episode first season. In both cases, the first three half-hour episodes will be made available for free on Amazon Instant Video, which is available on iOS, Kindle Fire, and Roku devices, as well as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii and Wii U. Following each show’s debut, new episodes will roll out (for paying Prime subscribers) on a weekly basis.
In a way, you can say that Amazon Studios is trying to merge the Netflix binge-viewing model and the old way of doing things: Get customers hooked by giving them the chance to watch a bunch of episodes at once, and then hopefully they’ll love the show enough to flock to (and talk about) new episodes every week. In doing so, this could also build enough buzz for the programs to persuade others to check it out. If this model works, Amazon will probably replicate it with future original shows (director Roy Price says in a statement that company will try and solicit customer feedback for this model).
“Alpha House” is written by Oscar nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau, and produced by Trudeau, Elliot Webb, and Jonathan Alter.
“Betas” is written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, directed by Michael Lehmann, and produced by Lehmann, Emmy winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen, and Oscar nominee Michael London. It will also feature guest appearances from Ed Begley, Jr.
Both shows were part of Amazon Studios’ original pilot slate, which consisted of six comedies and eight children’s shows.