‘Alpha House’ Ranks as Amazon Video’s No. 1 TV Series with Free Views

Perhaps proving only that you can’t beat free, Amazon Studio’s first entry into originals, political satire “Alpha House,” has ranked as the top TV series on the e-retailer’s paid and subscription video services since the second and third episodes debuted Friday.

Amazon — like Netflix — does not release specific viewing metrics. But Amazon does rank video titles by popularity, and “Alpha House” instantly topped the TV series category on the Amazon Video chart after the site made the second and third eps available free for anyone to watch in the early morning of Nov. 15.

The real test for Amazon’s originals strategy will begin when it releases new episodes of the 11-part series on a weekly basis, starting this Friday. Those will be available only to members of Prime, Amazon’s free two-day shipping program that costs $79 per year (as well as Amazon’s LoveFilm service in the U.K.).

SEE ALSO: Step Aside, Netflix: Amazon’s Entering the Original Series Race

Amazon spurned the “binge-viewing” strategy favored by Netflix, which has released all episodes of a series at once. Amazon’s sampling strategy is to let viewers “try out the shows and get to know the characters,” according to studio chief Roy Price — and, he hopes, convince some number of them to sign up for Prime.

By following traditional TV’s weekly spacing of eps, Amazon wants customers to “chat about the shows and build up anticipation,” Price says.

“Alpha House,” penned by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, stars John Goodman as a GOP senator who bunks with three other Republican pols in a D.C. townhouse. Amazon Studios will bow its second original series, Silicon Valley comedy “Betas,” on Nov. 22 with the first three eps also free for all to view.

According to Amazon, among TV shows available on Prime Instant Video, “Alpha House” is currently more popular than shows including “Falling Skies” and “Downton Abbey.” Across all video selections, only “Skyfall,” the latest in the James Bond franchise, has been viewed more.

SEE ALSO: Variety’s Review of Amazon’s ‘Alpha House’

Amazon has heavily promoted the free episodes of “Alpha House” on its homepage and video subsite, as well as on its Instant Video apps and through an online ad campaign.

In another difference with Netflix, Amazon released pilots of 14 shows earlier this year for free and incorporated user feedback to decide which ones to greenlight. Amazon Studios also owns the shows it’s creating, or has co-production deals for them, whereas Netflix has cut licensing deals for TV series, specials and documentaries.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Tinder - Swipe Night

    Tinder's Apocalyptic 'Swipe Night' Interactive Dating Show Sets Release Date

    Tinder next month will bow its first original entertainment content — “Swipe Night,” an interactive adventure series in which viewers are forced to make dating choices on humanity’s last night on Earth. Variety previously reported details of the location-based social network/dating app service’s foray into original content, which recently wrapped production in Mexico City and [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Rolls Back Verification Changes, Says Verified Creators Can Keep Their Badge

    A day after announcing significant changes to its verification program, YouTube announced Friday afternoon that it won’t be de-verifying existing creators after all. “We heard loud and clear how much the badge means to you,” said YouTube product manager Jonathan McPhie in a blog post. “Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it [...]

  • BLive: BitTorrent Live Streaming App to

    BitTorrent to Launch Public Beta of New Live Streaming App

    BitTorrent is getting ready to open the floodgates for its new live streaming app, dubbed BitTorrent Live: The company plans to launch a BitTorrent Live Android app on various app stores as part of a public beta test late Friday, according to a spokesperson. BitTorrent Live, which is also known as BLive, is being described [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps During Privacy Investigation

    Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps ever since it began investigating potential privacy abuses, the company said Friday. The apps in question had been built by around 400 developers, and a suspension doesn’t necessarily indicate actual privacy violations. Facebook began combing through millions of apps that made use of its platform after the [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Plans to Launch Android TV Dongle, Tivo+ Curation App

    DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week. The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content