Amazon Bets on Animation
New business models is something that interests me. Thankfully, we’re living in the age of new business models as traditional become obsolete/irrelevant and new ones spring up to offer new delights and take advantage of new technologies. Online streaming of video content is one of these new business models. Netflix has shown that it can be easily accomplished with existing content and plenty of YouTube channels have shown some viability for original content (albeit of short length). So where to next? Why long-form original programming of course!
This remains the quote/unquote holy grail of programming. Many folks know that the internet already delivers great content but the ‘sit-up’ nature of web surfing determines the short length of the content. In contrast, Netflix has cornered the ‘sit down’ nature of traditional TV viewing. Can both ideals come together peacefully? Amazon is betting, yes.
Their Amazon Studios outfit (which I have discussed) has been soliciting ideas for a while now. At the time of the announcement, a brief Twitter discussion between myself and Brown Bag head Cathal Gaffney ascertained that the terms being offered ($55K upfront with a cut of merchandise thereafter) did not make economic sense for a traditional studio such as his.
It did, apparently, make sense for someone, because Amazon has announced [Cinemablend but ultimate link to The Hollywood Reporter, an organisation which doesn’t seem to want to cite a source] that their first animated series to be developed will be called ‘Supa Naturals’. Described thusly:
Supa Naturals is about two brash young divas whose lives revolve around shopping, and whom, it turns out, are humanity’s only hope for a defense against the supernatural.
Hmm, sounds, uh, interesting. Anyway, the fact that Amazon is willing to bet on the future with animation. Although the nature of the series is still very much unknown, I doubt it will be suitable for all ages. In stark contrast, Netflix is moving into original programming with House of Cards and a revival of the hilarious Arrested Development; both live-action.
Does Amazon see a potential that Netflix does not? Animation has proven to be an extremely popular form of entertainment that has weathered well over the past 20 or so years (in general if not on specific networks). Amazon’s sign that they are willing to take a risk with only their second announced series is surely a sign of confidence in animation’s ability to find an audience. While it remains to be seen what kind of quality the show has, if the current crop of animated content on the cable networks is anything to go by, it shouldn’t take much to get a foothold in the market.
Until then, I eagerly await the announcement of Netflix’s first foray into animation.