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Amazon hires Woody Allen to boost the appeal of Prime

January 13, 2015 12:26 PM
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Woody Allen is going to work for Amazon.com Inc.

Allen, the writer, director, actor and musician who came into this world as Allan Stewart Konigsberg a little more than 79 years ago, has signed a TV deal with the largest e-commerce operator in North American and Europe to write and direct  a half-hour series. Amazon says it has ordered a full season of  episodes but provides no other details.

The project marks a return to TV for Allen, who was a writer on “The Sid Caesar Show” and other shows in the medium's early years. But this show will be Allen’s first time helming a TV series, says Amazon, No. 1 in both the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide and the 2014 Europe 500.

“From ’Annie Hall’ to ‘Blue Jasmine,’Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year,” says Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios. Prime Instant Video, which enables Prime members to watch thousands of streamed titles for no additional charge.

The Allen deal represents merely the latest move from Amazon to make its Prime two-day shipping and loyalty program more appealing to consumers. Last year, for instance, Amazon enabled Prime members to able to watch original shows from HBO’s archives as part of their membership. That marked the first time HBO has made its content available for streaming outside its own HBO GO app. 

Such Prime sweeteners are obtaining broad cultural appeal. On Sunday, for instance, “Transparent,” an Amazon comedic series starring Jeffrey Tambor, as a transgender man, was named best TV comedy or musical at the Golden Globe Awards. Tambor also won best actor. 

Some 40 million U.S. households are part of the $99-a-year Prime two-day shipping program, according to a recent estimate by financial research firm Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. 

Amazon has made 31.6 million items eligible for Prime shipping, up 24% from the fourth quarter of 2013, according to an estimate released today by Colin Sebastian, a longtime Amazon observer and e-commerce analyst who works for investment firm Robert W. Baird and Co. Those eligible items represent 13% of all physical items—including   25% of media products and 8% of non-media products.

 

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