Amazon debuts fresh original pilots, nabs exclusive rights to The Americans,

Michelle Clancy | 07-02-2014

Amazon has published ten new original online TV pilots, launching exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video in the US and LOVEFiLM in the UK.

In addition making a push into the increasingly vital original drama arena, Amazon also announced that Prime has snagged the exclusive streaming rights for all past episodes of the hit Cold War spy drama, The Americans.

The critically acclaimed spy thriller made it onto 36 Top Ten lists published at the end of 2013, ranking sixth on the overall scorecard behind only five other hit shows. The AFI named it one of the year's most outstanding shows and it picked up the Television Critics Association Award for the most outstanding new program of the year as well. Produced by Fox Television Studios and FX Productions, the series stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as married KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington DC in the early 1980s. It's set to come back for a second season on FX in late February.

"The Americans is simply an exceptional television drama that delivers riveting storylines and outstanding performances," said Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisition for Amazon. "We are excited to bring this great series to Prime Instant Video. The Americans is a welcome addition to our growing line-up of exclusive content and we know that Prime members will love catching up on season one in advance of the new season."

As part of the deal, Prime customers will also have access to additional programming, including popular comedies How I Met Your Mother, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Louie and Archer.

Amazon has been fairly successful in snagging exclusive streaming deals: Prime is also the home of the PBS/BBC series Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge, the CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome, and other hit TV series including Extant, Veronica Mars, Justified, Falling Skies, Grimm, Vikings, Workaholics, Suits and Covert Affairs.

On the originals front, Amazon Studios has debuted a mix of comedy, drama and kids original pilots for viewers to vote on the most popular will be green-lit for full-season production.

The move follows a first pilot season that resulted in the Garry Trudeau series Alpha House and the tech comedy Betas being green-lit, along with the soon-to-premiere kids series Creative Galaxy, Tumble Leaf and Annedroids.

New to the pilot line-up this year are two hour-long drama pilots from notable creators Chris Carter (The X-Files), Eric Overmyer (The Wire, Treme) and Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch). Half-hour comedy pilots were created by Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom), actor and musician Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr Banks), Tony-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers, Oscar nominated Paul Weitz, Emmy nominated Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under), and executive producers Ice Cube and Michael Strahan. The diverse line-up features stars such as Gael Garcia Bernal, Golden Globe nominee Malcom McDowell and Emmy nominated Jeffrey Tambor.

"With our previous set of pilots, customers submitted thousands of reviews within the first few days and more than 80% of those reviews were four and five stars," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. "We collaborated with some of the very best creators in Hollywood and even some new-comers that submitted their show through our open door process to bring customers a wide array of top quality shows. This season we have something for everyone with a mix of comedy, drama and kids programming we can't wait to hear what customers think."