Here's Why Amazon Is Willing To Pay Millions For A Good New Comedy Show


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Jeffrey Tambour's "Transparent" is breaking Amazon viewing records.

Amazon's new original dramedy series "Transparent" - starring actor Jeffrey Tambour as a man transitioning to become a woman - is now the most binge-watched series on Prime Instant Video, with nearly 80% of viewers watching two or more episodes in the same day, Amazon announced Thursday.


It's Amazon's first breakout hit, and only the second original series that has been greenlit for a second season. The first was "Alpha House," starring John Goodman.

As Deadline points out, the success of "Transparent" could finally help Amazon Prime find its niche in indie comedy shows, allowing it to compete with Netflix, which has popular original series like "House of Cards" and "Orange Is The New Black."

And that's why Amazon is apparently so keen to find another comedy, no matter the budget.

Variety spoke to industry exec sources familiar with Amazon's plans, who revealed they are willing to pay up to $4 million for promising new projects:


"The studio has indicated pilot budgets for its next comedies will be between $2 million and $4 million, but that it would be willing to go higher for a larger action-adventure comedy, according to industry execs familiar with the plans. Rather than traditional sitcoms, Amazon Studios is looking for cinematic half-hour shows; a hypothetical example would be a series reboot of a blockbuster movie franchise, per sources."

To put the numbers into perspective, Variety says $2-$4 million "is what broadcasters pay for top-shelf comedies as opposed to the more modest budgets SVOD players have spent to date on half-hour originals."

An Amazon Studios rep declined to comment on the prices, saying, "We don't comment on rumors."

Over all, CFO Tom Szkutak told investors in July that Amazon expected to spend more than $100 million on original productions in the third quarter, according to Variety.

Each year, Amazon aims to fund and produce four to six pilot shows and three to four series orders.


This year, Amazon has also greenlit Steven Soderbergh's comedy "Red Oaks," as well as drama "Hand of God" to full series.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.