Amazon has produced 14 pilot episodes for potential new TV shows, letting viewers have their say on which ones should be turned into a full series.
The pilot shows, made by independent production companies and produced by Amazon Studios, will be put to the public vote on Lovefilm and Amazon.com.
The eight adult comedies and six children’s animations are Amazon’s first venture into full-blown TV production, and differ from Netflix’s approach to House of Cards because they aim to bring forth new writers, rather than simply funding a series that would otherwise have happened on a conventional TV network.
The shows, will be available on Lovefilm in the UK and Germany, and via Amazon.com in America. Although airing on aubscription services, the shows will be available to everyone and not just subscribers.
Viewers can submit feedback influencing which shows get made into full series.
“This is the first time Amazon Studios has done this,” said Simon Morris, Lovefilm’s chief marketing officer.
The adult pilot shows include Alpha House, about four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC and stars John Goodman.
“Bill Murray has got a cameo in Alpha House, looking a bit older, a little bit more bedraggled, but definitely Bill Murray,” Mr Morris added.
Onion News Empire is set behind the scenes of the Onion News Network, a satirical daily news service, and “shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game”, according to Amazon Studios.
It stars Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor as the “egomaniacal lead anchor”.
Musical comedy Browsers stars Cheers and Frasier actress Bebe Neuwirth as the “terrifying” boss of a news website in Manhattan.
Other pilot shows include Zombieland – based on the film of the same name – featuring four survivors attempting to outwit zombies, while animated comedy Dark Minions, written by Big Bang Theory’s Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, is about two “slackers” working on an intergalactic warship.
Earlier this year, the streaming TV and movie service Netflix made and broadcast House of Cards, and revealed plans to make at least five new shows a year.
YouTube, owned by Google, also recently launched its original channels initiative with 20 new channels coming from the UK.
Morris said that the key thing that marked his venture out was that “the platform is open”.
“Not everyone has the opportunity to go and pitch an idea to HBO in New York, not everyone can get on a plane to Cannes and pitch a script,” he said.
“But there is now a vehicle whereby people are in a place that independent writers – whether they’ve got a track record or not – can put content through and it can be evaluated and brought to market. And that’s the exciting thing about this.”
The children’s shows include animations Sara Solves It, where Sara and Sam solve maths-based mysteries, and Creative Galaxy, an interactive art adventure series.
“I think the distinction between a regular TV show and an online TV show will soon fade away,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, the unit making the pilots. “It just makes sense that if you’re trying to decide what TV show to make, it might be a good idea to ask customers which one they like.”