Amazon's Kindle Turns A Page, to OTT

Amazon’s Kindle will be the next entry into the Over the Top marketplace, reportedly, giving its customers the ability to download films and games and no doubt, original content.

There is a lot of that original content going around.

Bloomberg’s  reported last week that Amazon will be ready to go to market with the new Kindle set-top later this year.

It’s a decision that holds some risk, I suppose. Apple and Roku and Boxee haven’t changed the world with their devices, though there’s some certainty that someday they—or at least one of them-- will.  

Amazon already has a video on demand service and Amazon Prime gives its subscribers ($79 a year) free shipping from its retail merchandise end and access to streaming thousands of movies and TV shows to their computers.

It just floated 14 TV pilots out to its audience, waiting to get feedback from viewers about which ones to produce. It bought the rights to the PBS hit “Downton Abbey,” which will have appeal for the short run, at least.  And the short run might be long enough for Amazon to get some traction. Now all it needs is customers.



Right now, Amazon’s Kindle Fire gives consumers access to YouTube and Netflix. It would seem to be dumb marketing to pull that away from customers when and if Amazon has its own box looking for customers who want to watch on the big TV set.  

As Amazon makes its moves into what is, essentially, untested waters, it just seems obvious that sooner, not later, traditional TV and cable networks are going to make increasingly bigger splashes in the more traditional online realm.

What will take consumers there is something they can't get somewhere else. That is, in short, original content. Whether good, bad or in between, something new and exclusive trumps the competition.

NBCUniversal last week said it would be producing “Family Frames,” an online show for its Fandango Website, and adding an online companion video attachment to a new series, “The Wanted Life” on its E! Channel.

With the debut today of Comedy Central’s Comedy Fest on Twitter and CBS’s online coverage of NCAA March Madness, a small and not too subtle move by established broadcasters and cable networks to use online for original programming is becoming a natural part of the universe. New versions of the old ABC soap operas, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” re-debut today on Hulu.  Even “60 Minutes,” with an audience whose median age is nearly in triple digits, regularly sends viewers online for extended video material it chose not to put on the air.  

Most of what’s happened so far, online and in the OTT business, have been baby steps, and a lot of it doomed to fail.  Maybe it should, too. It is hard to argue the world needs another video-on-demand service, or that there is a dearth of original programming or whiz-bang ways to access it. But the shakedown cruise is interesting to watch. Inevitably something is going to stick.

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