Can Amazon’s Use of Crowdsourcing Boost Market Share?

If you are a frequent visitor of online streaming sites, it will be no surprise that these sites have their own original television shows. The site will often advertise them on their main page in order to get people to watch these shows rather than other network cable shows. Even after repeatedly advertising these shows, not many people will actually click on them.

In order to fix this lack of traffic, Amazon has decided to use crowdsourcing. The website has released fourteen free pilots made up of six children’s show and eight adult comedy shows. Amazon plans on using feedback from users in order to decide which pilots would be turned into series on their Amazon Instant Video site. Once a user has finished the pilot, a following screen will pop up asking them to provide feedback on what they just watched.

Amazon’s use of crowdsourcing in this case is very smart. Because they are providing these pilots free to users, it will encourage them to buy the service if they really enjoy the episode. Amazon Prime subscription is currently at $79/year, which is cheaper than Netflix and would provide the user with unlimited access. However, it is also possible that Amazon can add a pay per-episode feature to encourage users to still use the product to watch the new show even if they do not want to subscribe.

ImageJohn Goodman in “Alpa House”

According to, the pilots will include: “a continuation of the Zombieland movie using different actors,…a spoof on a ridiculous news network called Onion News Empire and a pilot about four U.S. senators living under the same roof in Washington D.C. called Alpha House.” Would you watch any of these? Amazon Studio’s head Roy Price understands the dangers of crowdsourcing in this industry. Price believes that in order for this feedback system to work, they must pick through the data to find the shows that will create “a dedicated fan base, even if it’s smaller.”


Amazon’s attempt to create original series is also an attempt to compete with big names in the online streaming business, such as Neflix and Hulu. In addition to using user feedback, Amazon has decided to make the promising series available in a per-week basis as opposed to an all at once approach by Netflix. Even though the idea of using crowdsourcing could really improve the quality of these original series, is it enough to compete with the already established Arrested Development season that Netflix will release in May?



7 thoughts on “Can Amazon’s Use of Crowdsourcing Boost Market Share?

  1. I find this idea of having regular people view and decide whether the pilots should be ordered to series is brilliant. LIke with Gap, the tv channels and tv websites have to guess what viewers are going to want to see, and every year it seems that they get it wrong a lot. This will definitely allow people to be in control of what they watch, and with this type of program in place, it will allow for Amazon to have more traffic in their original programs, and to be able to compete with Netflix, which thus far has done very well in the original programming game. This is a great post about a great topic.

  2. I enjoyed this blog post. I like how you picked a topic that was very much connected to our class discussions. Amazon is using the idea of crowdsourcing in a great way as it tries to compete with Netflix and Hulu however, I don’t really know if Amazon is going to be able to step up to Netflix and the Netflix exclusive House of Cards. Not to say that Amazon doesn’t have a good platform or some good idea, however I don’t think Amazon can overcome the “first mover advantage” that Netflix has. Similar to how Amazon hopes to get loyal fans, Netflix has already acquired a huge following of loyal fans and controls a huge portion of the marketshare. I’ve never used Amazon but I’m a Netflix fan and I don’t foresee myself changing anytime soon… Great analysis though about Amazon’s use of crowdsourcing!

  3. I really like this blog post and I agree with alexanderheiman, you picked a topic that was interesting and relevant. I think that Amazon has made a very profitable decision because like you said, instead of guessing what the consumer wants, they will be able to mold a tv series into exactly what the consumers want. I think it is also a good idea for people to watch the pilot and get feedback because then consumers will begin to feel attached to the drama and want to subscribe or pay per episode. Also amazon prime includes other bonuses like free shipping and deals which will further encourage people to buy products from them. I do have a question about what unlimited access means. Does it mean that there are many tv shows available to stream or is it just unlimited access to the original series. If Amazon were able to have as many shows and movies as Netflix then I would say that Netflix should be worried, however at the moment with cinematch and also their own popular original series, I still think Netflix will be number one.

  4. Great blog, Courtney! Arrested Development is my favorite show of all time so I found this one to be really entertaining, and a breath of fresh air from the majority of blogs which are solely based on technology. I think your blog had a lot of interesting concepts mentioned, like that Amazon charges less than Netflix, but they sound pretty deceptive in that they can easily start charging customers additional fees per episode. As much as I understand why Amazon would try to do something like this, especially in a time where television shows take up a huge part of Americans time, I think that they are WAY behind the curve. Netflix is building off of a show that already has a huge following and established characters whose plot lines they can build from. I think Amazon will be out of a lot of money, because many new television shows on cable are going off air and failing, and they have a ton of commercials and advertisements. How would Amazon advertise an online web series that you have to pay (eventually?)? Personally, none of the plots of those shows sound interesting and even if they did, I probably would rather watch TV shows on cable as opposed to Amazon, especially since they will probably be cancelled after a few episodes. Awesome post!!

  5. What an interesting application of crowdsourcing! I expect Amazon will have already conducted market research on the pilot shows and they probably have some idea of the customer segments that each show will appeal to. Crowdsourcing provides a cheap and effective method of verifying their market research. It can also generate excitement for the potential releases of these shows.

  6. It makes sense for Amazon to try to follow in the footsteps of Netflix by releasing their own original shows, but I really wonder just how many people will be willing to drop $80 for a subscription after viewing just one episode of a show. The pay-per-episode option isn’t a bad idea, but the cost to continue watching all the episodes in a season will add up quickly which may cause users to lose interest.The decision to post each episode weekly is a good one, in my opinion, since it will ensure that users don’t burn through the entire series in a day or two through the recently coined phrase “marathoning”. However, I don’t see Amazon having nearly as much success as Netflix since Netflix already had millions of subscribers prior to launching its own original series, which will help keep users around, whereas Amazon is attempting to gain new users altogether.

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