At first glance, it seemed like a typically iconoclastic move by a man who has made a career out of upsetting apple carts (and TV executives).
When Jeremy Clarkson announced last month that he and his fellow ex-Top Gear presenters, Richard Hammond and James May, had agreed to front a new motoring show for internet company Amazon, many fans were taken by surprise. The trio, after all, were television’s hottest free agents at the time, having left the BBC abruptly following a widely reported punch-up in a hotel, and commentators were confidently predicting the team would be signed up by ITV, Sky or another of the BBC’s traditional rivals.
But, in fact, we shouldn’t have been surprised at all; Amazon has been plotting to take over the world of television for years and the Top Gear coup is just the start of an accelerated investment in programme making and feature film production by a company that not that many years ago was most famous for selling books online.
But why is Amazon muscling its way into film and television? And what will it mean for viewers? The answer to the first question is simple: it is doing it because it can. Over the last five years a technological revolution has seen more and more people watching their favorite films and television shows over the internet through video on demand services. Instead of waiting for a time in the week when a broadcaster deigned to show the next episode in a particular series, viewers now have the opportunity to watch programmes or movies at a time and a place of their choosing, whether that be in their living room between nine and 10 o’clock on a Tuesday evening or under a tree in their local park on a Sunday afternoon.
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