LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Amazon is releasing its first two original series, but not all at once.
The online retailing giant says the first three episodes of “Alpha House” will be available for free online and through its mobile and game-console apps on Nov. 15. After that, Amazon.com Inc. will release one episode per week exclusively to subscribers of its $79-a-year free shipping service called Amazon Prime.
It’ll follow the same recipe for the release of “Betas” starting Nov. 22.
Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement Monday that the schedule is meant to encourage customers to “chat about the shows and build up anticipation.” He also said he’s open to feedback on the new model.
Amazon.com Inc.’s video service competes with that of Netflix Inc., which releases an entire season at once of its original shows, like “House of Cards.” The all-at-once model allows Netflix streaming customers to potentially binge watch and then cancel their subscription in a single month. At Amazon, Prime subscriptions are paid one year at a time.
Amazon’s original series will have 11 episodes per season, compared with 13 for Netflix shows. On TV, seasons can run as short as 13 episodes — or even eight episodes like the last half season of “Breaking Bad” — to as many as 24 episodes, which is how many are in a typical season of “NCIS.”
Both originals are comedies. “Alpha House” is about four U.S. senators who are roommates, while “Betas” follows young tech entrepreneurs trying to create a new mobile social networking app.
The series were developed from a pilot program that Amazon kicked off in April.
The Seattle-based company put up 14 pilot episodes on its website and apps for customers to rate and review them. Amazon picked two comedies and three children’s shows to develop into full series based on the feedback. In a sign it likes that way of green-lighting series, last week the company said it would try out two more pilots, both hour-long dramas: “Bosch,” based on the Harry Bosch book series and “The After,” written by “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter.