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Amazon Studios says it will no longer crowdsource its pilots on Prime

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Jul 30, 2018, 6:21 PM EDT (Updated)

From its inception, Amazon has been a user-friendly service, even when it branched out into the television-making industry via Amazon Studios. Several pilots would be released at once, and the ones with the top votes would be picked up for a full series order. That's why The Man in the High Castle (based on Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel of the same name) is now nearing the release of its third season; its debut episode was Amazon's most-watched pilot ever.

This crowdsourcing format for discovering what the people want, ingenious as it is, will not continue, the company announced at the Television Critics Association's 2018 summer tour. 

"I think I’d never say never, but right now that version of it is not something we’re doing; but you will see, I think, us investing in pilots," said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke at a panel at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. "You saw we announced three YA pilots. We will use our own testing and barometers and some, obviously, audience-driven data to make decisions. But the public sort of voting process, I think, is set to decide right now."

True, shows like The Boys, Lord of the Rings, Good Omens, and The Romanoffs were scooped up for full first seasons without audience feedback, but giving Prime subscribers a say in the content they want to consume is not only really smart, it's logical. While not decrying the process entirely, Amazon Studios COO Albert Chang did enumerate the scheduling issues it caused. 

"I think one of the things we’ve learned is that it just took a little too long to get shows that customers wanted, because if you think about the pilot process, you have a pilot process and then you vote and then you green-light and then there’s this protracted time of getting the writers’ room ready and everything," he said. "And, so, what winds up happening is that you wind up taking way too long to get the actual season that people wanted too long. And so I think part of that was just to be making sure that customers got their shows as quickly as possible."

"It predated me, but, yeah, keeping the enthusiasm of that bringing the public into it and keeping the momentum of delivering on that, I think, hit a little bit of a skid there," Salke added.

Additional reporting by Tara Bennett.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of the TCA 2018 summer press tour.

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