With ‘Betas’, Amazon makes original programming splash

By Natan Edelsburg 

When Amazon decided to make its foray into original programming it did so in a non-traditional, Amazon-like way. The company is known for its customer-centric ideology, and so in the spring, it released eight comedy pilots and let consumers decide which one should be green-lit. The public spoke, and Amazon Prime members will have the ability to watch Alpha House (starring John Goodman) and Betas.

Amazon is undoubtedly trying to replicate the success that Netflix had with House of Cards, but whether either series will attract new subscribers to the $79-a-year Amazon Prime is far from certain. The latter of the two series’, Betas, can particularly benefit from having Amazon Studios behind it. The show follows four friends as they try to make it big in Silicon Valley. The show has been compared to Entourage, the Social Network, and The Big Bang Theory. If Betas is as successful as any of the productions its been compared to, it will be a big win for Amazon.

We asked Executive Producer Michael Lehmann what it was like working with Amazon Studios:

When we sold the show to Amazon, we thought it was a perfect place. They get the tech world, can help promote it, and they can make sure we present the world accurately,,, I didn’t really know how they would market it or promote the pilot… Four or five days into shooting and our executive at Amazon told us to clear the music for testing.

I freaked out. We had a very short production schedule… I really liked what we were doing, but when the pilot was first put out there, I was kind of scared to death. You don’t want the public to weigh in, but it turned out great. People responded and it was such a great cast. It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about.

There has already been a lot of buzz on Twitter, and this is due in part to Amazon giving the show’s staff freedom to promote it. Lehmann agreed:

I remember being on the set of True Blood. There was this thing called Twitter that everyone was talking about and I thought, this is pretty cool, so I got a Twitter account. True Blood has all these fans – [and I was told] you can’t tweet any details, and I didn’t want to have to think about what I can and can’t say. I’m loving the fact that Amazon is saying go out there and promote the show.

The first three episodes of Betas and Alpha House are available for free for all Amazon customers. Each subsequent episode is released on a weekly basis and available for Amazon Prime members only.