Amazon moving into sitcoms

You can get just about anything on Amazon these days. Pretty soon that may include original sitcoms, with the rollout of Amazon Studios.

“We’re now developing original programming for Amazon Instant Video. Submit your children’s series or comedy series idea — it could be the next hit show,” says a message on the company’s Web site.

The site is also advertising for writers on open writing assignments, which pay up to $33,000.

Amazon Studios had Amazon Studios head Roy Price tell All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka that he wants the shows to feel like “real” TV shows and that the products will have the production budgets to match.

Amazon Studios is also running a “Premise War” on its site, asking Web visitors to choose between two competing pitches already at the studio. (By the way, meet your newest tool for serious procrastination.)

The online retailer already distributes video through its Instant Video service, and has developed good relationships with studios by streaming old television shows and movies through that marketplace for free with a subscription to its Prime service, or for one-off rentals starting at $2.99. Users can also, of course, buy digital copies of the content.

For that reason, Kafka notes, Amazon will probably manage to soothe any short-term studio concerns about its push into the TV production space by pointing out how much money studios make on the older content. Of course, Amazon already has a great distribution platform in the Kindle Fire, which will automatically put access to the programming literally into the hands of millions of potential viewers.

With this push, Amazon is taking on Netflix and Hulu — which have their own original programming — and working off of the model taken by Google’s YouTube.

YouTube has been investing in original content providers to become a platform for producers. Amazon is taking the same approach of giving people with ideas an easy way to approach them, but will act much more like a traditional studio than the video site.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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