Amazon Studios, the entertainment production arm of the e-commerce giant, ordered up another pilot for an original children's television series Tuesday, pushing its current slate of kid-show pilots up to a half dozen.
The latest addition appeared to differ from many of Amazon's past pilots in two ways, though a response from Amazon later Tuesday indicated "Maker Shack Agency" isn't nearly as singular as it appeared at first blush.
For one, "Maker Shack Agency," a series about a 13-year-old inventor and his two best friends who build a new invention every episode to solve clients' problems, is produced by Electus Studios. Most of the series and pilots that Amazon has ordered thus far in its originals push have been produced by Amazon itself, meaning the company holds the most of the rights on the content. It's a tack that separates Amazon from streaming rival Netflix, which is also in the midst of an evolution into television content creator.
In addition, the latest pilot fosters the opportunity to link Amazon's nascent entertainment push to its core retailing business more so than any program before. In a release, Amazon said the production crew from "Maker Shack Agency" will team up with research and development company Applied Minds to design gadgets that will be featured in the show. That creates fertile ground for a line of toys for Amazon to sell.
But an Amazon spokeswoman said later Tuesday that Amazon is a partner with Electus Studios on "Maker Shack Agency" and will hold the rights. She also said that the Applied Minds partnership relates to the production of the show, not to retail products.
Even if the work with Applied Minds designing gadgets is simply to make props, the inventions still create an opportunity for toys based on them that could be sold without leaving Amazon's site.
Amazon's endeavor to built up its Instant Video service, including its work developing original programs in the vein of Netflix, has long been linked to the idea of attachment sales on its retail side, especially in the case of children's content. In signing a large licensing deal with Viacom earlier this year, for example, Amazon not only accessed a trove of Nickelodeon content for kids, it also opened the possibility of stoking sales of SpongeBob beach towels and Dora the Explorer backpacks.
Earlier this year, Amazon ordered up handful of kids pilots and then chose to greenlight three for production: "Annebots," "Creative Galaxy," and "Tumbleaf" to run exclusively on its site later this year and early next year.
Last month, Amazon said it would make five more original pilots for kids, including the first pilots for older, grade-school-age children like "Maker Shack Agency."
Again, the pilots will be available on Amazon Instant Video early next year for all for customers to watch, provide feedback, and help determine which shows should be produced as series.
Update, 8:25 a.m. PT: Adds Amazon spokeswoman response about studio and gadget partnerships.